Archive

Archive for March, 2011

German Error Message – After the Warmth

March 19, 2011 Leave a comment

We’re going outside our normal comfort zone for this one; but then, diversity is the name of the game, innit? Comin’ straight outta Murfreesboro, Tennessee, “After The Warmth” marks the first release from folk “band” German Error Message. I say “band” because German Error Message is essentially just Paul Kintzing and a rotating cast of his friends.

“After The Warmth” is not your typical, ‘sounds of Americana’ style folk offering, however. German Error Message performs delicate, chamber-inspired folk tunes that take the listener on a rather forlorn journey. The sound throughout is both haunting and restrained; all of the instrumentation is of the acoustic variety, and Kintzing’s voice rarely exceeds a glorified whisper, forcing the listener to pay attention to the somber lyrics. Here’s a track-by-track rundown.

Opening track “Reaching Out” is one of the livelier tunes on the album, but still very much restrained, and reveals some traditional Irish seisiun influences, but even the banjo and mandolin are minimalist in nature.  “The Warmth” follows, and features banjo over acoustic guitar and bass. Also a little brighter than some of the later songs on the album, sounds more like a stripped down indie song (think The Shins gone acoustic). Also, I’m pretty sure there’s a xylophone. Track 3, “Some Storms,” actually features some brush-played drums, though they almost get in the way of the rest of the instrumentation. To fast-forward a little, Track 8, “Rejoicing,” suffers from the same problem.

Back on track…the album’s fourth track, “Discontent,” is perhaps the best song on the album, and it is also the most understated and haunting song of the lot. The slow, “finger-picked guitar over melodic cello” sound and interplay between Kintzing and Shelly Lites and Joan Perez would not sound out of place on a Damien Rice album. “We Arose” has a sound that crescendos bigger than any other song on the album, as helped by the bright horn section in the chorus. Lyrics about emerging from a bad situation. “Remember Your Entire Life” is driven by a double bass (not the double bass pedal that many of our more traditional reviews feature) which gives the song the feel of a somber funeral march.

“The Swell” also has a more acoustic indie-rock vibe. Also the shortest track on the album at 2:11. Album closer “There Will Be Seasons” is the album’s weak point. The repeated acoustic guitar riff sounds a little sloppy at times, and the horn section suffers greatly from the album’s lo-fi production; this would be a good track to get the whole ensemble into more than a bedroom studio and do it up right.

As I stated earlier in the review, German Error Message lies outside our normal comfort zone. That said, it certainly entails the same DIY mentality and honesty that many of our more traditional “punk” offerings do. Plus, a man’s music collection gets too vanilla when it contains only Les Paul’s and Marshall stacks.

It’s been a long time coming, but now the snow is gone

March 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been waiting a long time to post this one. At long last, the snow has disappeared from the yard entirely. The grill is uncovered and cleaned, the garden is soon to follow suit. The bike is in the process of being tuned up and returning to the road. My leg may finally be healed enough to start pounding the pavement with some regularity again. New season, new opportunities. All summed up perfectly by the inimitable Josh Ritter, who has the kind of knack with turning a phrase that is makes anyone else who considers himself a writer want to hang up the quill set forever. I present to you Josh Ritter’s “Snow Is Gone.” Bring on Springtime!

Birds beneath my window dustying their wings upon the lawn
I hear them in the morning light giving last amen to a migratory song
They’re never looking round for me—their eyes are on the sky or the ground below
But I’d rather be the one who loves than to be loved and never even know
Hello blackbird hello starling
Winter’s over be my darling
It’s been a long time coming
But now the snow is gone
You were beautiful when I first saw your feathers and confectionery airs
Like the earth it up and promised you the stars but you really didn’t care
I sang in exultation pulled the stops—you always looked a little bored
But I’m singing for the love of it—have mercy on the man who sings to be adored
Hello blackbird hello starling
Winter’s over be my darling
It’s been a long time coming
But now the snow is gone
OOOOOOOOH!
I’m underneath your window now—it’s long after the birds have gone to roost
And I’m not sure if I’m singing for the love of it or for the love of you
But I’ve flown a long way honey hear my confession then I’ll go
I’d rather be the one who loves than to be loved and never even know
Hello brown one hello blue one
Last night’s feathers exchanged for new ones
Hello blackbird hello starling
Winter’s over be my darling
It’s been a long time coming
But now the snow is gone

 

Categories: josh ritter, Music