Music

The Late Call: Golden

Photo: Elisabeth Moch

Golden may be the one record to bring Johannes Mayer (The Late Call) to wider awareness.


The Late Call

Golden

Label: Tapete
US Release Date: 2015-04-28
UK Release Date: 2015-04-13
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

A German by birth and currently a resident of Stockholm Sweden, Johannes Mayer has recorded four albums to date (Leaving Notes, You Already Have a Home, Pale Morning Light and his latest, Golden), all branded under the aegis of his alter ego the Late Call. However Golden may be the one to bring him wider awareness. It finds Mayer returning home to Germany for the recording – to a studio in Bremen, to be exact. It also sees Mayer expanding his musical palette as a means of accommodating an actual band, one that finds him up front on guitar and vocals, Patric Thorman playing bass and Hammond organ, Henrik Roger providing piano and Mellotron, and Lars Plogschties anchoring the proceedings on drums and percussion.

Mayer's hired hands aside, Golden more or less picks up where Pale Morning Light left up, emphasizing and expanding on the pastoral imagery that's characterized each of the earlier outings and elevating the hushed, twilight ambiance that's clearly become so essential to their sound. To be sure, the presence of additional musicians eliminates some of the more elusive elements of past recordings, but that supple, sublime aesthetic still remains intact.

While it may be a bit of a stretch – and even an injustice -- to call Mayer's music strictly folk rock, there's no doubt that comparisons to the hushed, emotive sound of Nick Drake will come immediately to mind. However, if Drake was the only point of reference then the Late Call might rightfully be relegated to a pack of also-rans, given that that troubled troubadour is an all too often common basis of comparison for any shadowy ensemble. Suffice it to say that in its own way, the Late Call's sound is somewhat more emphatic, if only for the fact that it makes a more immediate impact. While the melodies may be fleeting, the arrangements leave a lingering impression. The rousing, beguiling and beautiful lead-off track "Carry" provides instant infatuation, as does the graceful rallying cry of "Ghost World" and the supple shuffle of "The Pact". "White Moon" is uncommonly propulsive, while "Pickpocket" provides the forward thrust to offset any of the usual lethargy. Likewise, the easy sway of the title track gives the album a pop presence that may signal that Mayer is readying the band for prime time.

That said, there's nothing phony or farcical attached to Maye'’s muse, but rather a careful attention to detail, to emotional symmetry and to creating specific sound suggestion through its evocative aural imagery. The melodies are precise, the instrumentation spare, the lyrical sentiment spun from bittersweet reflection. Songs like "Telling Stories" and "Leave No Trace" find Mayer in full contemplative mode, a place the Late Call are clearly most fond of. Both sensitive and seductive to a fault, they're the kind of outfit that's able to transport the listener to another plane – a safer, more idyllic locale – where trouble and despair may not dissipate entirely, but serenity reigns regardless.

8

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

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

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

rating-image