February 21, 2013
The art of the album seems to be lost. I don't know if the advent of electronic music downloads caused it, or if maybe it was more special to begin with. Celebrated albums like The Wall and The Dark Side of the Moon are few, which would be why they're celebrated. All throughout my music-listening career buying an LP/CD/Cassette tape has always been kind of a crap shoot There might be a song you hear on the radio and so you buy the album and there is precisely one song on it that's worth listening to. Or, your favorite singer/band comes out with a new album and you rush to buy it, and you slowly come to the realization that you're not as impressed as you had expected to be. Then, you might just decide that you're completely disappointed.
But, in this day and age of instant and total gratification (one could have written the same opening phrase 20 years ago; it's just more-so now than it was then) does anybody even care about albums as a complete art any more? It's a lot more convenient for me to be able to buy just the songs that I like, and though I could be missing something wonderful, I'm saving a lot of money in the process.
There is one album, though, that I'd like to bring your attention to: the self-titled album by The Autumns. I downloaded one song from a site I had a subscription to (totally legal – they were promoting indie bands). The song was Slumberdoll, which is a very nice song by itself. I let a friend of mine at work listen to it and she emailed me asking for the name of the band... then she emailed me threatening to choke the life out of me if I didn't tell her the name of that band right now. (I might be exaggerating.) It's got a sound that is not like anything I've heard before and I'm at a loss to describe it. The instrumentals are... I don't know. I truly have nothing to compare them to so you'll have to listen to samples here:
I've read mixed reviews. I recently was at Goodwill – a favorite Sunday afternoon activity of mine – and I came across an earlier work of theirs, In the Russet Gold of This Vain Hour. That CD is from 2000; the predecessor of The Autumns, which is dated 2004. The style is absolutely the same, but I like The Autumns much better. I felt they were more developed and more sure of themselves. I read, though, a review that compared the 2nd rather unfavorably to the first, so I suppose it's a matter of taste. (Judging from the language of said review, I'd say that he/she is more used to writing reviews of music than I and perhaps a better source, but I still hold firmly to the opinion that The Autumns is far superior to In the Russet Gold of This Vain Hour.)
Taken by itself the song Slumberdoll is wonderful. But, in the context of the complete album it makes more sense; it has a home. The music is not hard rock; it's more like Muse. It makes good listening in the morning when I first get to work. Or, in the evening when I get home. The lead singer's tenor voice slipping in and out of falsetto, the melancholy feeling that the instruments inspire, the smooth, confident way they play make me happy. The Moon Softly Weeps a Lullaby is purely instrumental and it's dark, slow and soft. On the whole, it puts me in a different place mentally, and the first few chords prepare my brain to be taken there. But, you gotta hear the whole CD to get the effect.
Please give these songs a listen. I haven't come across anything like them before. (I'm not likely to again, it would seem. They had one other CD in 2007 and then seem to have fallen out of the world.) This album is a work of art, but more so if taken as a whole rather than each song standing alone. It's the kind of thing that can sit on a shelf for years, and then be played again and the chords immediately sooth the soul again... and alert the senses to a imminent ride that you're about to be taken on, like the feeling you get when you first start rolling in a roller coaster ride that you're familiar with.