Classic Album Review :: Low — Things We Lost In The Fire

I usually start taking time off after my birthday until the new year. It gives me time to write the novel I’m working on, and catch up on general medical shit. However, I found myself thinking about how NO ONE knows this album and that is a fucking shame. Especially when everything feels so bleek right now.

Things We Lost In The Fire is melancholy: the album. Not in that “15 and deep” kind of way, more in that “I don’t have the energy to do anything today”, and that is a perfect way to define right now. Hell, the lyrics are not even to dower, and the music is the furthest thing from crushing. It’s just so slow, so delicate, and perfectly mixed.

I came across this album by complete mistake forever ago. I thought that it had a beautiful, yet very minimalist, design. I was a fan of the record label (Kranky) and I was familiar with other acts produced by Steve Albini. It was the perfect storm, and I will not say the rest of the discography from this band is disappointing, but they have never lived up to this release.

Defined as “slow core”, this album boasts a very minimalist soundscape. The instrumentation uses very few instruments all being sustained with to the limits of how there sound will resonate. Parts (track 3, Dinosaur Act, song below) remind me a little bit of Matthew Good Band Beautiful Midnight era, mixed with Wintersleep’s Untitled. The lyrics feel like just an added flourish instead of a focus.

That is not to say the lyrics are throw-away. Kind of the opposite: the poetry being displayed is as powerful as the interact play of noises being performed by the instruments. My point is more that they are never overpowering the other sounds, more complementing them.

Seriously, if you are reading while drinking a warm beverage of choice, watching the weather outside, or dwelling how that person you fancy doesn’t fancy you back: this album is perfect. It also works while reflecting on how invisible you are.

Classic Album Review :: Matthew Good Band — Beautiful Midnight

I have not written one of these in a while, but the last one keeps getting new readers! If this is something you want me to do more of, let me know in the comments! I have a few albums I can think of that I feel everyone should remember or experience for the first time.

Oh, Canada! You make such good music!

I know that I keep doing retrospectives in Canadian music of albums from the ’90’s, but that was my bread and butter. I was a huge alternative nerd back then, and some of the best music came from Canada. I am sure, if this article does well, I will hit on Our Lady Peace.

I digress. I lovingly call this album “The Soundtrack for Nihilism” to no one ever.

(I need friends.)

This album has some of the bleakest outlooks on life ever put to lyrics. From the bombastic opening of Giant right through to the somber ending of Running For Home. Every song croons about “everything is fucked is and we’re all going to die so make the best of what you’ve got.”

I love it so much.

Giant is probably one of the best intro songs ever. It opens with a cheerleading group spelling ‘KICKASS’ with no backtrack what-so-ever. Then, with piercing squeals preceding it, the drum line comes crashing over everything. It’s beautiful.

From that point on, the lyrics and music paint a picture of how great it is that everything is the way it is in the most sarcastic, unfeeling way. The music reminds me of the epic crescendo’s of the ’80’s metal scene mixed with the independent movement in the early 2000’s. Leads and little more than jangles placed perfectly over steady rhythms laid out by a steady bass line. This, of course, is punctuated by the slap of crushing swells and pounding drones. The strings sound like they would be simple in execution, but they are covered in flairs you might not notice unless you were looking for them. The drums accentuate the standard pop song structure then vier wildly into the realm of progressive meters and timing without the listener even noticing.

To put it simply, this album should not work in the mainstream archetype, but does so beautifully. The bleak lyrics help along this feeling of ambiguity that the album contrives. Metaphors abound and the similes used illustrate the mind of someone defeated by society, but they do not celebrate it. They are used more to illustrate how messed up everything is, but drive home the hopeless emotion that permeated the ’90’s.

I think my ravings have proved how much I love this album. In fact, I am having a hard time picking a favourite song to share with everyone. When you have massive tracks like the aforementioned Giant and piano ballads like Strange Days with only one song between the two, to find a standout track that dictates the general feeling is really difficult. It would actually be a lot of fun to break the album down, song by song, and write a piece about each one. There is enough content in each song individually that doing so would be interesting. Even taking what they sound like they mean and comparing what they are actually about would be interesting.

I, however, am far from the right person to do such a task.

If I had to make a generalization as to what states-of-mind the album elicits, I would have to say crushing realization combined with an acceptance of just how wrong everything can be.

SO, I TOLD MYSELF I WOULD NOT PICK GIANT.
I found a really good version of Giant live.
The first guitar solo is ignored by the camera operator. Epilepsy warning, though I was okay.

Enjoy.