The JangleBox

Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

Indie Streamings – Ken Stringfellow: I never said it was easy (Lojinx, 2014)

I Never Said I'd Make It Easy (CD + Download)

Ken Stringfellow is beloved among pop obsessives for his work with the Posies, and he’s been a sideman to the stars, sitting in with R.E.M., Big Star, the Minus 5, the Green Pajamas, the Fastbacks, and many other great acts. However, for unknown reasons, his solo career hasn’t attracted the same degree of attention, and for folks who are curious about his work on his own but can’t decide quite where to start, Lojinx Records have come to their aid with I Never Said I’d Make It Easy, a sampler that pulls together 16 songs from Stringfellow‘s solo catalog. Of the 16 songs on I Never Said I’d Make It Easy, 12 originally appeared on 1997’s This Sounds Like Goodbye, 2001’s Touched, and 2004’s Soft Commands, while two cuts came from an EP with fellow Posie Jon Auer, one was drawn from the B-side of a rare single, and one track, a low-key cover of the Replacements‘ “Kids Don’t Fellow,” is previously unreleased. Melodically speaking, Stringfellow‘s solo work isn’t especially far removed from his music with the Posies, but the tunes on I Never Said I’d Make It Easy are recognizably more downbeat than his best-known stuff with the band, and the tone of this music is significantly more dour, with the ache of broken hearts and the bitterness of failed relationships a dominant recurring theme. I Never Said I’d Make It Easy is dominated by bummed-out pop, but it’s great bummed-out pop, with subtly beautiful melodies and intelligent lyrics, while Stringfellow‘s production smarts are estimable, blending organic acoustic sounds with a dash of electric guitar grit and a healthy splash of electronic polish, resulting in a powerful and engaging product. “Don’t Break the Silence” and “Any Love (Cassandra et Lune)” are pocket-sized masterpieces, and the closing cover of “Never My Love” manages to sound nearly as lovely as the Association‘s original while taking on a smokier, more mature affect. If I Never Said I’d Make It Easy isn’t everything you might need from Ken Stringfellow, it certainly confirms he doesn’t need his many talented partners to make great smart pop music” (All Music)

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9 junio, 2015 Posted by | Ken Stringfellow | Deja un comentario

Ken Stringfellow: Danzig in the moonlight (Lojinx, 2012)

A fuego lento

La primera reacción que experimenté cuando oí por primera vez este Danzig in the moonlight, el último trabajo de Ken Stringfellow fue un tanto frustrante. Esperaba un disco de guitarras. Un álbum enérgico de esos a los que The Posies nos tenían acostumbrados. Pero en realidad, Ken aprovecha los hiatos con su banda matriz para tomarse un respiro, para experimentar en el estudio, para explayarse a gusto. A Danzig in the moonlight había que darle más oportunidades para conseguir captar la esencia del autor de inolvidables himnos Power-Pop.
Y así lo hice. A la tercera o cuarta escucha las trabas comenzaban a caer, y la esencia de los temas comenzaba a destilar por mis oídos, ávidos de novedades pero plenos al escuchar huellas sonoras añejas. Digamos que en Danzig in the moonlight ha querido dejar de lado las canciones Pop de tres minutos para convertirlas en óperas Pop. Ken ha querido explayarse y convertir el cliché coro-verso-coro en una epopeya sonora en la que los sonidos y la instrumentación se expanden tranquila y armoniosamente durante cada surco.
Nos encontramos, como decía, con un disco difícil y con ciertas aristas, en el que se abarcan varios géneros, desde el Pop más calmado (History buffs), el sinfonismo disonante (Odorless, Colorless, Tasteless) al Sonido Philadelphia (Pray); del Country (You´re the gold, Doesn´t  it remind you of something) a la balada más refinada (Jesus was only a child) o los sonidos más setenteros (Even the Forgers Were Left Fingering the Fakes). Un disco epatante que, insisto, no es fácil de digerir a la primera escucha. Antes bien, ésta ha de realizarse de manera calmada y tranquila, dejándole tiempo para una cocción adecuada. El resultado final puede ser, entonces, de lo más reconfortante.

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Ken Stringfellow, despite an eight-year drought between solo albums, has kept himself busy since 2004’s well-received Soft Commands by playing with R.E.M. and a re-formed Big Star and releasing an EP, a new Posies record, and two albums with his Norwegian garage rock outfit The Disciplines. Released in 2012, Danzig in the Moonlight finds the venerable singer/songwriter tossing all of those experiences into the soup pot and serving up a real horn of plenty. Recorded in Brussels and employing an international smorgasbord of guest musicians, Stringfellow‘s fourth solo outing is as riveting as it is willfully schizophrenic, incorporating elements of progressive art rock, country, soul, R&B, and straight-upPosies-inspired jangle pop without a care in the world, resulting in his most daring studio offering to date. Opening with the temperamental “Jesus Was an Only Child,” which halfway through decides to abandon its dreamy, Elbow-esque trajectory for a rakish electro-pop backside that sounds like Marc Bolan fronting PulpDanzig in the Moonlight feels like a beloved bedroom project gone viral, and while it might not always work, there’s never any telling what daydream/nightmare may lurk around the corner. If anything, Stringfellow fans of every persuasion can walk away with at least one or two prizes, from the breezy AOR bliss of “You’re the Gold” and “History Buffs” to the White Album-ready “Even the Forgers Were Left Fingering the Fakes,” the dissonant John Cage-meets Radiohead mysticism of “Odorless, Colorless, Tasteless,” and the flirty, candy-coated retro-pop of “Doesn’t It Remind You of Something,” the latter of which is a duet with the Head and the Heart‘s Charity Rose Thielen” (allmusic.com)

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18 octubre, 2012 Posted by | Big Star, Ken Stringfellow, The Posies | Deja un comentario

   

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