Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Blue PIne (Global Symphonic)

History will remember Blue Pine, if at all, as the precursor to Frog Eyes. I like Frog Eyes a lot, and I am intimately familiar with some of their records despite owning none of them. Blue Pine though, I remember far less about. I think I got this as a promo and enjoyed it as some sort of R.E.M.-Beefheart hybrid. This darkwoods Canadian weird-indie vibe is certainly an affected, acquired taste but it's not really anything too challenging - there's still guitar and bass and drums, and an adherence to song structures and singing, And lyrics even about love 'n stuff. But it's a solid release, and one that probably has a lot to reward those investing the time. I think when I found this as a promo back in 2001 or so I realised the potential and kept it around for when the time would provide itself. It still hasn't, and this post only afforded it one front-to-back listen, but I again felt some real tingles at a few moments. Now the gruffly tortured vocals are so constantly acupunctured by the guitar shards that it really takes away any comfort zone that might be created. But somehow, there's still the backwoods lumberjack sensibility that they obviously strive for (as the artwork and general name of the band indicates). You'd almost think this was horror-rock or some drunken ethnic/trad thing. Now, if lyrics like 'Raise your hands if you are a believer in a salad bar/Cincinnati, I believe you now/Woe to the father that was built on straight lines' (from 'Benjamin Windsor: Attorney at Law') are something you can connect with, more power to you. Personally I find it's just the right balance of that whole obtuse magic that Wallace Stevens used to do - and Destroyer (a fellow Nuck to Frog Eyes' Carey Mercer) is a modern master of. But if you find it a pile of pretentious shit then you don't have to pay attention, even though the closing epic 'Slowhorse or Traversing the Canadian Wilderness: Father and Son Search for the Elusive Mother' almost forces you to, through its urgency. I do think this is a modern rock band of true artists and they found a sound that is unique and accessible at the same time. Maybe this is just seen as Chapter Zero in the Frog Eyes saga but it's a great place to start. The keyboards and organs, a lot less prevalent than in the later band, give just the right amount of colour. I want to use the label 'Gothic' but that just seems a bit too easy. Maybe it's a forward-thinking retroaesthetic, or maybe I just can't help but think that way because Guy Madden is also from Canada.

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