PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights: End Times Undone

Similar to albums by Kilgour's band the Clean, End Times Undone feels longer than it is, in a good way.


David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights

End Times Undone

Label: Merge
US Release Date: 2014-08-05
UK Release Date: 2013-08-18
Amazon
iTunes

"That record's one of the best I've heard in a long time." So the clerk praised my purchase of David Kilgour's Frozen Orange a few years ago. That album featured Kilgour's cover painting of a diver amidst bright coral and clear water, and so does this latest release. But on it, no diver can be seen, only coral. Perhaps End Times Undone hints at a more natural setting, or a more apocalyptic one?

Whatever the reason for the title, these 10 short songs capture the buoyant mood of this singer and guitarist from longtime New Zealand indie stalwarts the Clean. Backed by guitarist Tony de Raad, bassist Tom Bell, and drummer Taane Tokona, these modest songs begin in spirited good cheer.

"Like Rain" soars with optimism despite its title, as after all, this is New Zealand where such weather may more be the norm than the exception. "Lose Myself in Sound" sustains the buzz and lo-fi charm of the Clean's guitar workouts. "Light Headed" prefers to settle down, with a measured use of percussion, reverberating production, and a headier production integrating whispers over keyboards.

So much of the music from these islands gains its ambiance from the setting, and this record feels both lazily played and carefully arranged. That is, while the recording of this over the past few years came from not steady tinkering over songs, but days now and then when the Heavy Eights convened to record quickly, the combination of leisure and efficiency sinks into these congenial grooves.

A previously released single, "Christopher Columbus", celebrates an early mariner's quest west. Jangling, this updates on the shanty to convey the restless nature of those who seek out another way. "Spread a little light around, send it in the right direction. Bound to need a rest, everybody needs a rest." This unassuming tune displays Kilgour's three-plus decades of songcraft simply and deftly.

An edgier "Crow" uses a prowling guitar arrangement and grumbled vocals to explore a darker mood. It ends without resolution, as if the singer still seeks a meaning that eludes him. "Dropper" swirls up a spacier sound, hinting at psychedelic influences even if the production refuses to give into, at first, to its typical phasing or effects to illustrate an altered state. It holds back, so when such elements enter, they prove more rewarding for having been delayed. Whereas an acid-rock band would have over-indulged, the brevity of the Heavy Eights under Kilgour's control keeps these moments brief.

The soft-rock strums of "Comin' On" circle around themselves, as doubt in the lyrics plays off against the cheer of the guitars over a steady bass and reliable drums. Kilgour deepens the resonance of his vocals in the mix as he contrasts chipper instruments with darker words. Again, it's a humble success.

An underwater distance echoes in "I Don't Want to Live Alone"; the lyrics of isolation and loneliness stand out more on this track as the instrumentation is pared down, heavy on the snares and keyboards, both processed to increase their gloomy impact. It's closer to a jazz vocalist than an indie-rock guitarist's moment before the mike. "Down the Tubes" continues this feeling of depression as the album winds down. The keyboards rise up and the guitar, bass, and drums beat them back, as the singer contends with his longing for unrequited love, seconded by a repeated riff which grows as the song continues.

A bit of a boost seemed timely at the end. "Some Things You Don't Get Back" cautions the hearer against too much hope, however. "Running out of gas," floats up from the vocals, and the impression remains that this final song wishes to stick to the increasingly sad mood of the track sequence.

Similar to albums by the Clean, End Times Undone feels longer than it is, in a good way. It packs pleasant moments into its short span, but it prefers to settle down with a listener ready for unsettled introspection, for an immersion into intelligent songs from a reliable musician fronting a solid indie band.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


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.