Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mark Lanegan -Phantom Radio

Much like with Bob Mould, if you want to hear Mark Lanegan's talent, you're best off dropping your expectations for loud rock. I'm sure, if Josh called, Mark would front the next QOTSA lp, and if Greg Dulli wanted, there'd be another Gutter Twins record. But, get over the thought of Mark as some whiskey-voiced Robert Plant wannabe. He's a crooner at heart- he's got more in common with Frank Sinatra than a beautifully ruined voice- but he just wants to sing. So, for those who exited at Blues Funeral, much like those that exited after Bob Mould's Modulate- that's your right, but it seems more than a bit short sighted to me, as, in either artist's case- the infusion of technology and Electronics has given them  new art, new creative impulses, and they should be allowed to follow the muse, period.
So, yes, Phantom Radio not only keeps up the Electronica from Blues Funeral, it expands upon in. Tracks were composed on his phone, and various keys and synths figure prominently. Above all that, Mark is in fine voice. Better than ever. He has refined his instrument as a singer up to that Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Sarah Vaughan kind of place where all of his quirks are known, and used to best effect. So, yes, I like this record. Yes, the music sounds like Joy Division meets Portishead, and yes, I think he feels that music every bit as much as he feels folk and rock music.
Honestly, I like rock music, but rock music fans can be pricks about it. If you try to break out from whatever ghetto of expectations your fans have, you'll be punished, and if you conform too well, you'll be punished. Mark  is a human being!! Leave him alone!! Waaah!!
Ok, I'm joking, and referencing Chris Crocker- how played out is that? But, I have a point in that- it's this- I don't own Mark Lanegan, and I'm not here to protect him, or defend him. I just happen to own and enjoy his records. The sole expectation I have, and have a right to have, is to be able to hear his Art. I can choose to not listen. But, I cannot tell him what to play, and I cannot pretend to understand the man, himself.  That's the deal- i get to experience the art, he keeps his life. Projecting about whatever struggles he may or may not have had, about what his life has done for or to him- that's all his, not mine. So, the stark truth is this- this is his Art in 2014- I can take or leave it. I like it, and I'll take it. Yes, I like the notion of a Joy Division song with those beautiful velvet blues vocals, instead of Ian Curtis' wounded moose moan. Yes, I like his blues dirges gussied up in downtempo beats.
Here's the thing- I don't want to be a brand, or a shill- and neither does Mark, and that makes this just as authentic as The Winding Sheet.
If you need to ease in- start with this version of I Am the Wolf, but do give this a chance.

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