Music

Englishman: Englishman

The stunning beauty contained on this album is something to behold. Certainly one of the best albums of 2010, and I fear my simple words won't convey what I feel in my heart.


Englishman

Englishman

Label: Cave City
US Release Date: 2010-11-23
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

Lexington, KY. I lived there from 1992-2000, then packed up my most important belongings, eagerly got the hell out of there, and relocated to California. The town holds many memories for me, most of them bad, some of them heartbreaking. I've been back a few times and vow to never go there again. But enough whining.

I mention this because Andrew English, the man behind Englishman, is a Lexington, KY, native. The music scene in that town has always been poor, although I spent my formative years heavily involved in it. I was even in a band. Now, Andrew English has emerged, a songwriting extraordinaire, and has made me realize that great music can come out of Lexington, or anywhere for that matter. This album, however, was recorded (on tape) in a barn in Ohio over the course of 10 days. It comes off the heels of his Taxidermy EP, and a year of touring, sharing the stage with the likes of Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Deer Tick, and Sam Quinn. This is his first full-length album, and it is one hell of a stunner.

The set begins with "Planted", like a listenable Iron & Wine, or David Mead in his folky moments. The melodies are sad and gorgeous, as they are throughout the record (aside from a few moments of, um, happiness). "Party Cancelled" is exquisite, with a prominent rhythm -- folk-pop with melancholy to spare. "Angels & Earthworms" shows off English's Kentucky roots, Americana mixed with the sounds of Jason Lytle's (Grandaddy) recent output, and a slight hint of Elliott Smith thrown in for good measure. "First Prize" departs from the folk, providing us with straight-up indie-pop, landing somewhere between Beulah (R.I.P.) and Stars.

"Boy T-Rex" continues the voyage into consistent, melodious, folk-pop Heaven, with introspective lyrics that perfectly compliment the musical despondency. "Pet Cactus" recalls Death Cab For Cutie and, oddly enough, Fleetwood Mac, with dark but strong melodies and little bits of Americana. "Hummingbirds Black Out" is the only letdown on this near-perfect album, a bit too treacly for my tastes, and lacking in melody. "Shepherd's Jaws" returns to the indie-pop realm, driven by staccato piano chords and perfect backing vocals (most likely provided by keyboardist Matt Duncan and/or honorary band member and producer Justin Craig; then again, it could just be overdubs by English).

The album ends with a trio of songs that are so flawless, so beautiful, that I don't trust my words to properly represent them. "Classically Trained" is all hushed Americana, not unlike the practically unknown Mark Erelli, dishing out mellifluous mastery as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The result is heart-stopping beauty, a perfect 10. "The Sticks" is a return to what seems to be English's signature, lovely and sad folk-pop; the extraordinary melodies are admittedly simple, but if this type of music is to your liking, you'll struggle not to get lost in it. Finally, "Funnel Of Love" completes the album on its strongest note. Every facet, every piece and part of this sparse, lonesome, Appalachian folk-inspired composition exudes perfection, exquisite and quietly revelatory.

I won't apologize for my gushing. I won't apologize for my examination of every song. If you enjoy folk, indie-pop, Americana, or just want to blanket yourself in the work of one of the best songwriters I've heard in far too long, this album is absolutely obligatory. Mr. English, I implore you to keep making music.

One last thing if you're struggling to find this record: it's available on Amazon in the US and the UK only as digital downloads. You can also download it from iTunes. If you want a physical, tangible copy of it, you can purchase it from Bandcamp.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image