Leigh Marble: Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows

Marble might have been better served taking an anger management class than unleashing his mixed emotions on befuddled listeners.

Leigh Marble

Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows

Label: Laughing Stock
US Release Date: 2012-04-24
UK Release Date: Import

Portland country-folk singer-songwriter Leigh Marble is one angry, angry man on his third full-length album, Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows. Opening song “Walk” even opens with the repeated lyrics, “I’m going to walk until the anger’s gone.” There’s a pretty good reason for Marble to be pissed off. His wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in recent years. Though it went into remission, Marble spent more than a year in a depressive and anxious funk while she went through treatment. Those sentiments fuel Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows, which is an alternately dark and smutty album in equal measure. Indeed, when Marble isn’t busy gazing at his shoes and intoning over and over “evil don’t find me here” as he does on, well, “Evil”, he’s busy chronicling the drunken debauchery that occurs in strip bars (“Jackrabbit, baby / Your ass is in the air,” goes “Jackrabbit”). This mix of the sullen and the profane is an odd one that doesn’t always work well. Marble has a bit of a plain and light voice, and doesn’t have the gin-soaked cadence to carry off some of the more bitter tracks.

When Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows does work, it gently reels the listener in. “Nail” is a seven-and-a-half minute long slowcore ballad that recalls the depressive longing of Sparklehorse circa Good Morning Spider mixed in with the ambitious burn of a Pink Floyd ballad like “Comfortably Numb”. (Final song “Cars” even uses the line “pigs on the wing” in the lyrics, which would seemingly be a direct nod to the Floyd.) Country ballad “Goodnight” sounds remarkably Wilco-esque, and could have easily fit in on Being There. “Pony” is a jumpy two-and-a-half minute rocker that exposes a mismatched relationship. However, some of Marble’s vitriol comes off as silly and excessive. “All you fucking fakers / I’ll arrange you to meet your maker,” Marble sings on “Holden”, a song tackling hipsterdom that utterly misses its mark as Marble is almost singing with his tongue in his cheek, attacking the very PBR-swilling audience that might enjoy this sort of thing. Alternately, when he’s trying to be funny, there’s an edge of red that undercuts the songs. Ultimately, the feelings expressed on Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows don’t seem sincere in the slightest at times, which is odd given the trials and tribulations that the author went through. Perhaps Where the Knives Meet Between the Rows is an example of a songwriter being too close to the subject matter and not being able to express himself properly, given that the wounds were too fresh to have any sense of perspective on. Basically, Marble might have been better served taking an anger management class than unleashing his mixed emotions on befuddled listeners. The disc feels uneven and aimless, making it at best something of an interesting misfire and at worst inconsequential.






'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?


Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.


IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.


Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.


NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.


PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.