Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Merykid's concept album 'The Raccoon' pays off

January 25, 2011

The album as a piece of art has a long and twisty history. From long-form classical pieces with movements (which could be considered analogous to songs) to musicals in the first half of the twentieth century to proggy concept albums in the ’70s and now, there has always been some idea that individual pieces of music can compose a greater whole. Merykid‘s The Raccoon brought up these thoughts of history, as the album can’t be considered as anything but an album.

There are few to no verse/chorus/verse structures here. This is not an album surrounding a single; there is no single. This is an album for the sake of an album. The music only enhances this, as it is a mishmash of synth-driven downtempo/trip-hop, glitchy electronic beats, found sounds and acoustic guitar work.

Furthermore, it starts out with a stressful spoken word drama underscored by acoustic guitar, strings, a few electronics and the found sound of a train station. The boy is leaving the girl and getting on the train. The girl is dramatically hurt. The boy leaves anyway, making her promise that she won’t wait for him.

That’s the setup for the rest of the album. Yes, this an ambitious album.

Does it succeed? It’s very coherent musical piece of work, even with the mix of acoustic and electronic songs. There’s a solid balance of emotions and space to let them happen; Merykid never tries to pack too much into a song. His vocals are solid and interesting throughout, especially shining on the good-use-of-autotune “Two Wrongs.” The album flows excellently, as he knows how to use interludes and instrumental pieces to enhance the album’s atmosphere.

Lyrically, it’s a bit on the short end of the stick, as it took me scrounging through the press materials again to figure out exactly what was happening. Given the strong start to the narrative, it’s a bit disappointing that I couldn’t follow the path too closely. Thankfully, he does lay everything out in the final track.

Merykid’s The Raccoon is a very interesting, engaging piece of work that demands to be considered as a whole unit. If you’re willing to give it the attention it asks for and requires, you’ll find some unique and interesting moments within. It’s definitely a successful album, but I feel that the best is still yet to come from Merykid.

D.B.G. releases a solid folk concept EP

May 16, 2009

D.B.G., also known as Dan Barnaby Goddard, has released an EP called Earthling, and it has an unusual premise – it’s a folk concept album. The four songs on the EP are called, in order, “Man,” “Woman,” “Boy,” and “Girl.” Earthling is quite short, but these sleepy folk tunes are soothing and pleasing to listen to.

The first song, “Man,” is probably the darkest song on the EP, especially with lines like “man was the warrior, man drew the lines.” I almost think that it could be a better closer than an opener for this reason, but maybe that would mess up the song order and flow. From the beginning of this song, the listener can feel the philosophical vibes, which continue throughout the EP. But “Man” also gives the listener a false idea of what the rest of the EP will be like, because it sounds so moody and mysterious.

For example, the lazy-summer-day-sounding “Woman” really fits the feel of the rest of the songs on the EP. The organ in this song is a great addition – it gives “Woman” a nice fullness. And speaking of organ, a neat aspect of Earthling is that D.B.G plays every instrument, including guitar, bass, viola, mandolin, drums, and the pleasant organ in this song.

“Boy” picks up the pace a little bit, and D.B.G. does a great job of writing a youthful-sounding melody. Would it be weird to say that this song actually sounds like a boy? And the happy, delicate “Girl” also reflects its subject matter well using mandolin as the main instrument.

D.B.G.’s Earthling is recommended for fans of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young who doesn’t mind a little philosophizing or for anyone who wants some good, calming morning music.

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

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