Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Ken Stringfellow: "Danzig In the Moonlight" (album review)

Ken Stringfellow has had a good, productive career.  The former Posies frontman has played with numerous bands, and has found success as a solo artist.  His latest effort is a solo one: the record Danzig In the Moonlight, which is set for an October 16th release.

The album opens with the hushed Mercury Rev-ish "Jesus Was An Only Child", which morphs itself into a New Wave number.  He's hushed again on the soft, grounded harmonica-powered "110 Or 220 V".

Stringfellow has a tendency to get melodramatic with his tunes.  The schmaltzy glam of "Superwise" makes it one of those tracks you will hate yourself for loving.  The overly-dramatic "Shittalkers" isn't quite as redeeming.

Inexplicably an Al Green soul number breaks out on "Pray".  On "History Buffs", he verges on piano prog rock.  It feeds into the bizarro cabaret of "Drop Your Pride".  The medley "4am Birds/The End Of All Light/The Last Radio" is a rudderless drifting mess.

It's not all a trainwreck.  "You're The Gold" is an outstanding pop rock tune.  "Even the Forgers Were Left Fingering the Fakes" is a trippy late-Beatles-style pop ditty.  The heartwrenching country duet "Doesn't It Remind You Of Something" is a fabulous lament.

Those shining moments are simply too few and too far between to make Danzig In the Moonlight a recommendation.

Best tracks: "You're The Gold", "Doesn't It Remind You Of Something"

Track listing for Danzig In the Moonlight:
  • Jesus Was An Only Child
  • 110 Or 220 V
  • Superwise
  • Shittalkers
  • History Buffs
  • You're the Gold
  • Drop Your Pride
  • Pray
  • 4am Birds/The End Of All Light/The Last Radio
  • Odorless, Colorless, Tasteless
  • Even the Forgers Were Left Fingering the Fakes
  • Doesn't It Remind You Of Something
  • Savior's Hands
  • You're a Sign


Melodramatic said...

It's clear to me that this disheartening, somewhat callous review, written by an unqualified writer whose limited command of adjectives (note use of hushed twice in 2nd paragraph) finds itself straining for the moral high ground against an absolutely innocent target, was written either after a listen and half to this album--or, if that's as perceptive as the writer can be after several listens, we're dealing with a level of sophistication more suited to Bieber than Beirut.

I'm accused of several crimes over the course of this review -- melodrama being the worst. Melodrama is the fabrication of emotion where normal emotion will do. What I sense is that the reviewer is uncomfortable--or just incapable-- of dealing with serious emotions, or any change up in style or chord progressions that might hint at deep feelings, or fluctuations in the program. It's inexplicable, for example, when a song with a soul influence comes up. I'd love to read this reviewers take on the Beatles' White Album. "Inexplicably, a show tune arrives! Crazy! Then there's the melodrama of Helter Skelter. He screams! Ewww!"

Evidently, this reviewer enjoys the sexless, easy listening confines of the worst end of passionless indie rock. Once we were musicians, my friend. Now, for you, real musicianship, real variety, real passion, real competence--is just too much for your tiny brain and malfunctioning heart to swallow. I have one song where--God forbid--I change styles THREE TIMES! For this reviewer, that's a 'rudderless trainwreck'. No, it's a song with complexity, depth, and precision. That you couldn't appreciate, understand or follow it says more about your listening comprehension than my abilities as a writer. As for your abilities as a comment. But here's a review of your review!

Review: 2/10

Better luck next time!

Anonymous said...

I forgot to address the 'piano prog rock' I verge upon in 'History Buffs'. Prog rock? It's essentially a piano ballad, with a handful of chord changes, no tempo changes,etc. Prog rock?? So for this reviewer, Emily Haines' piano music is essentially free jazz. Simmer down! Take the time to listen, and practice your command of musical vocabulary.

T.O. Snob said...

Apparently he's also a whiny bitch who can't take criticism.

D.Boon said...

Apparently you review records whilst watching American Idol.

T.O. Snob said...

How do you manage to comment from beyond the grave?

Tyler G said...

Honestly sir, I don't think you'd know what good music is if it bit you on the ass. Ken's music has been a major influence to me for almost 2 years now, and there's a reason for that. His music is him speaking his mind, what comes from his heart, and the way that he does it is beyond amazing. The way he puts it all together with his amazing instrumentation (4am Birds is a prime example of this, but I LOVE Shittalkers, a song you call "overly dramatic", where his vocals and songwriting really shine.) and his outstanding lyrics and vocals.

Honestly, sir, I think you need to get your shit together, and find out what good music really is. This is all coming from a 16 year old who enjoys Classic Rock, Rock, Alternative and Indie over the horrible Pop shit kids my age listen to. And calling him a whiny bitch doesn't help, because to me, the whiny bitch who can't take criticism is you, seeing how you flat out insulted someone over their opinion.

So with that, good day, and go fuck yourself.

T.O. Snob said...

I'm glad you dig his work so much. There's nothing wrong with that.

However, he is a whiny bitch because he complains about bad reviews on Twitter.

Tyler G said...

Well, maybe it's due to the fact he spent almost a year putting this album together, to do the best he could, and he did amazing with it, in fact I think it's his best work. He just got a little offended, because a lot of the things you pointed out are kinda false. He puts his own emotion into these songs, and that's what I enjoy about his music the most.

Anonymous said...

calling any artist a "whiny bitch" for responding to criticism suggests you don't believe they have the right to respond? snob indeed. sir, you are a fool.

T.O. Snob said...

Responding is fine. Childlike bellyaching is not.

JustAGirl said...

Obviously, there has never been any quality control in music blogging, for there never has been much of it even amongst the employed and published critics. I believe Morrissey said that all critics are failed musicians. These days, they've most likely never even failed for the fear of trying and pissing in their pants, as they have this superiority complex when they think THEY get to say the last word on something with actual value on a level that none of their own 'creations' could ever come close to.

Evaluating others is easy and creating art is hard, which is why becoming a critic is an available route for the lazy and self-absorbed to get to shout their views from the rooftops (to "fill their narcissistic supply", as this is called in Psychology) . If they had talent, they'd make songs / books / movies instead. Or maybe even printed journalism, albeit probably not as an art critic but rather in a talent-demanding position such as that of the (good) columnist.

I believe artists are within their rights to respond to critics if they wish to; to claim that an artist has to pour their heart out for years to create a piece of work that they can dismiss with a few not-well-thought-out words without even the right to respond without gaining further abuse from the reviewer is just a narcissistic point of view. "You are special", so special that you're better than all the visionaries, 'cos you don't even have to do anything to put your vision out there, cos, you know, you're the best (which also explains why you don't have to give much of a listen to the pieces you review before tearing them down). Huh. Must say tho, this reviewer was not being a fascist bully (of which there are many), although it's sad that even that is something that we should be grateful of these days.

Obviously, also, the state of our culture is pretty hopeless with the prevalent narcissism & dumbed-down-ness, the combination of which produces hasty evaluations, based on not the target of evaluation but based on the evaluator, because, u'know, they're the star (sure). Real artists do not take center stage for getting attention for themselves but the visions and perspective that they channel, and to produce that involves sitting alone in a room practicing and pondering and takes too much time out of partying and trying to find mating partners.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the guy writes a literate refutation of your review and he's bellyaching? I'm new to this thread but T.O. Snob, your dickness shines like a lighthouse of shitbirdness. In layman's terms, since you apparently are about as good a reader as you are a writer: you got served. And, you're a shitbird.

Anonymous said...

....who can't, apparently, take counter-criticism.