I’m starting a new (ir)regular thing on the blog here to talk about records I absolutely love that nobody else in the world ever seems to have heard of. Well, obviously someone else has, but nobody I know. I’m doing this as an overspill to the stuff I’m lucky enough to do on the Rock & Roll blog about new music, just because there’s so much stuff I want to write about.
Incidentally, all my stuff on the music blog, run by the wonderful two Marias, can be found here:
Anyway, first up is Spain’s The Morning Becomes Eclectic Session which was a live recording they did for KCRW which was so good, so incredibly good, that they ended up releasing it as an album. You can see pretty much the whole thing here:
There’s so much to talk about with this record, that I’m going to start with the highlights in bullet form:
- Track one (‘Nobody has to Know’) has an absolute virtuoso piano performance on it
- Track two (‘Untitled #1’) has an absolute virtuoso guitar performance on it
- Track five (‘Walked on the Water’) has the best cello instrumentation I’ve heard since Nirvana Unplugged, it’s gorgeous
- Track six (‘Only One’) has some of the most beautiful backing vocal harmonies I’ve ever heard (they’re provided by the lead singer’s triplet sisters apparently)
- The rhythm guitarist is an absolute machine throughout the whole thing, he never misses a beat
- The lead singer Josh Haden looks like a bloke called Geoff from Accounts, but has the voice of an earthbound and slightly world weary angel. Archangel Geoff, patron saint of Purchase Ledger
I don’t mean that last point in an insulting way, I think it’s awesome. I don’t buy into rock stars all having to look a certain way. I like things to be different, to be unique, to just be what they are. And then the quality of what’s being done lives and dies on its own merits. Haden actually reminds me of Lou Reed – someone else that really didn’t look like your archetypal prancing frontman. Just someone who has a massive amount of talent and his own brand of cool going on.
There are only seven tracks on the album, so it’s a short one, but I’ve already told you how great four of them are. Add to that ‘She Haunts my Dreams’ which is also pretty awesome and you’re almost all the way there.
The other two tracks are worth talking about too, perhaps mainly because I’m not quite as enamored of them. ‘I’m Still Free’ is great musically, it just doesn’t sit that comfortably with me personally on a lyrical level. Essentially, I think the track is about being depressed when a relationship breaks down but getting through it because at least you still live in a free country, so all is not that bad. And I’m not arguing with that sentiment necessarily. But at this specific point in time (let’s call it the age of Trump) singing about the stars and stripes just irks me a little bit. To be fair, this song was written years ago, so I’m aware it’s my problem not that of the band. So maybe it’s just unfortunate. In a few years’ time I’ll probably have no issue with it whatsoever again.
The final track is called ‘Spiritual’ and again is great musically. Lyrically it references Jesus Christ a lot, and I can’t tell whether it’s a genuine Christian song or just a stylistic kind of statement, given the title. Anyway, not being a particularly religious person it jars ever so slightly for me. Again, probably just my issue, but this record is so good I feel it deserves my honesty.
Overall though, this is an incredible recording that I’ve never heard any other person ever mention or recommend. I found it by accident and it’s been my album of choice to listen to in bed while I fall asleep for some time. It’s absolutely beautifully arranged and executed. If you get a chance, give it a go. Let yourself fall asleep to it. I promise you’ll be impressed.