Music

Woodpigeon: Thumbtacks + Glue

Mark Hamilton of Calgary indie-folk collective Woodpigeon is just too productive, which might explain the exhausted feel of this new LP.


Woodpigeon

Thumbtacks + Glue

Label: Boompa / Fierce Panda / Lirico
US Release Date: 2013-02-26
UK Release Date: 2013-02-25
Amazon
iTunes

It has become quite common these days for music to yearn for the recording schedules of the '60s and '70s, when many bands released one LP a year, or sometimes even more. It should not be forgotten, however, that most artists of that era were only able to meet such punishing timetables by packing albums with covers and filler; a good reason why it was decades before the album became a respected and creatively valuable format. Two or three year album cycles came about for a reason, and those bands which continue to release huge reams of material year-on-year simply cannot hope to maintain any semblance of consistency. Woodpigeon are one such band.

This indie-folk collective, centred Nine Inch Nails-style around Calgary's Mark Hamilton, first really came to attention with debut LP Songbook in 2006 (or 2008, when it was released in Europe). At the time Canada seemed to be producing more talented indie bands than it could reasonably contain, and the epic, scattershot earnestness of the record saw Woodpigeon listed among the best of them. The tour album Treasury Library Canada attracted so much attention that what was originally pressed into only a thousand copies became a proper release in its own right – tellingly, many of its tracks had originally been written for the previous LP.

Thumbtacks + Glue arrives at the tail end of a period which for Hamilton and Woodpigeon have been so productive that it's hard to tell which number LP it actually is. Since the last “proper” full-length, Die Stadt Muzikanten, no less than two other albums and three EPs have been put out under the Woodpigeon name, not including extra live material. It's an avalanche, and it matters because Thumbtacks + Glue sounds, perhaps not surprisingly, like the work of an exhausted Mark Hamilton.

Everything about opener “The Saddest Music in the World” suggests that this is going to be a fairly subdued, even maudlin, record – and so it proves. Hushed introspection has long been one of Hamilton's primary modes, but without the joyous interludes of earlier albums the atmosphere of Thumbtacks + Glue becomes quite oppressive in places, especially in the two lengthy tracks that close the record and genuinely drag.

There's nothing inherently wrong with albums dominated by a particular mood, but what makes this effort feel so underwhelming is the desperate lack of interesting melodies. With a title like “As Read in the Pine Bluff Commercial”, we might expect the song to possess the deft melodicism for which so many of Hamilton's songs are known, but what we get instead is a very perfunctory effort set against one of the album's many plaintive acoustic guitar backings. Inspirational, it is not. One of the reasons for all this is probably the fairly drastic reduction in collaborators Hamilton has worked with – only seven other individuals are credited on the album, which by Woodpigeon standards is quite small.

There are rays of light, for sure – after a very laboured build-up, the electric guitar-heavy “Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard” eventually works up a kind of drama before a bleepy electronic outro, and Hamilton's duet on “Little Wings” makes a welcome change. But dragging 10 quite ordinary Woodpigeon songs over 45 minutes makes Thumbtacks + Glue a sadly laborious and pedestrian listen, bereft of the wonder in the best of Hamilton's previous work.

4

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.

Music

Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum
Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Music

Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.

Music

Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.

Film

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 .

Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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