Sunday, August 26, 2007

Burden of Dreams

Holler, Wild Rose!,
Our Little Hymnal,
Backlight Records [9/18/07]

Our Little Hymnal is pseudo-operatic alt-rock in the tradition
of Jeff Buckley and Arcade Fire.

I prefer the former to the latter, and while I wouldn't go so far as to say I dislike Holler, Wild Rose!, they don't do much for me. I was expecting something lighter, looser, and, well, jauntier by that countrified name—plus, exclamation point!—but this is some pretty serious business.

At times, the New Jersey sextet also recalls U2, Ride, and Rufus Wainwright. The music swells and subsides while John Mosloskie—a superior singer to AF's atonal Win Butler—intones and testifies.

Clearly, he has important messages to impart. Yet, I can't always make out what he's saying, just snatches here and there, like "I'm the captain of your heart." That said, he has a supple, expressive voice. If he isn't professionally trained, like Lavender Diamond's Becky Stark, I'll eat my hat. (Or my shoe, pace Werner Herzog.)

So, it ain't my thing, but this record was five years in the making, and it shows in the expansive arrangements and performances.
A lot of care and feeding went into this thing. I respect that. I
don't have to like it, but that doesn't mean you won't.

Endnote: This is the kind of record KEXP should get behind, but probably won't. I enjoy the station, I really do, but too often they pass on unknown bands unless someone else makes a move first. (There are exceptions, of course, like Pela, their latest fave rave.)

Take the Gossip, for instance. KEXP should've shown their music some love ages ago. Instead, they didn't embrace the Portland
trio until England made them stars. Granted, they were spinning the Scissor Sisters—featuring ex-Seattleite Jake Shears—before their career followed the same trajectory (moderately successful in the US, huge in the UK), but too often they wait for cues from external forces when they should trust their own instincts.

Incidentally, Our Little Hymnal clocks in at 68:26 minutes—now there's some bang for your buck! For more information, please see their official website. Images from their MySpace Page.

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