Mark Lanegan – “Blues Funeral”

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7 .6 Blues Funeral  by  Mark Lanegan
Released: 02/01/2012 • Label: 4AD

The so-called “brown frequency” produces extremely intense resonance at very low frequencies, causing any person in its path to spontaneously shit their pants. Ok, I´ll take critisism for the poopy talk, but very few singers do have that ability, that “unknowable” substance in their vocal chords making them sound like they’ve been given the divine ability to force bowel movement. Mark Lanegan does have that ability.

Blues Funeral is Lanegan’s first solo record since 2004’s Bubblegum, not counting the brilliant Gutter Twins record Saturnalia from 2008, which features his longtime brother-in-arms Greg Dulli. Blues… features 12 songs, produced by Alain Johannes of Eleven, Them Crooked Vultures & Queens of the Stoneage fame and was released by über label 4AD. No shortage of indie cred here, bros.

The disc starts out strong with the rolling “The Gravediggers Song”, a song that easily would fit on Songs For The Deaf by the Queens of the Stoneage. It’s one of those songs that make me want to start smoking again, just so I could blast this song in my car, windows down and smoking a cigarette.

To follow up, the next three songs would make me pull over pretty fast to get some coffee to go with those cigarettes. “Bleeding Muddy Water”, “Grey Goes Black” and “St. Louis Elegy” are a quiet trilogy of songs, taking it down a notch a little too fast in my humble opinion, especially after the rumbling intro. They are all pretty good songs, but maybe too quiet, too early on. “Grey Goes Black” being the most immediately listenable of the three.

The most interesting sounds usually happen on the B side of records – in my opinion anyway – and the song “Ode To Sad Disco” manages to combine a seventies discosynth bassline with spaghettiwestern guitar chops under Lanegan’s brooding lyrics. One of the best and most unexpected songs so far. “Quiver Syndrome” is another weird rocker, and Primal Scream-ish in its drive and its ”woo-woo” back-up singers.

Lyrically, there’s talk of the devil, Jesus, sins and hospitals and all things you generally would avoid at tea parties at your mums. Which with some artists just seems faux, like an act – but Lanegan is the kind of man you really believe has walked thru most of life’s challenges and he’s still hanging around here to sing and to document them for all of us. Music writers inevitably use descriptives like “whiskey soaked,” or “cigarette stained,” or some other cliché, but maybe the stories come from hard feeling, not hard living. What makes him able to so effortlessly croon about hardships and matters of the soul.

Mister Lanegan is a man of myth. Returning to his voice – how about this one: the weirdest story about him might be the one where a group of renegade priests from an L.A. archdiocese tried to use Lanegan’s voice for ritual exorcisms – in one case asking him to sing Ave Maria repeatedly for over three hours. He had only agreed to try it so he could “see who was eviler”, the priests or Satan. Listening to Blues Funeral, I have a feeling who won that contest.

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