Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Aaron Robinson and the Lost Verses

December 12, 2008

I seek out the stark beauty of songs that are composed of acoustic guitar and voice. Aaron Robinson has several songs on his Myspace that fit that bill. There’s a purity to the expression that draws me to the songs; they are the barest elements, the first-fruits of the songwriting. There’s nowhere to hide in an acoustic song; if you can’t hack it, we’ll know really quickly.

That’s why a perfectly constructed and performed acoustic song is so much more interesting to me than a full-band performance; if a punk band gets sloppy, it goes by fast enough that it’s hardly noticeable, and someone will probably cover the mistake with their noise. In “A Dying Art,” there’s nowhere to hide. It’s a man and his baritone ukelele (!), both double-tracked. The delicate, intricate performances are real; not studio. It feels honest and passionate, even in its calm mood. “You Will Be Called Home” is beautiful in much the same way; although the piano in the song makes it feel a little less like what I’m relating and more like a full song. It’s still beautiful; let it not be said otherwise. But “A Dying Art” makes a much stronger impression on me because it is simple and powerful.

But even more engaging than the demos is a live version of “Price is Right,” which maintains much of the morose, beautiful feel of acoustic-only pieces, but incorporates some percussion and graceful, twinkling keys. Robinson pleads with the listener through sweeping, elegant vocal lines; the jagged strum pattern is tempered against the smooth croon of “The price is right for me.” The song never lets go of its sweeping, tragic feel; if the audience didn’t clap at the end, this would be the perfect end to a mixtape or a depressing movie.

A Dying Art

Price is Right

Listen to  tracks from his fantastically-titled debut We are Racing Ghosts at his myspace page.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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