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

Tara Angell: Come Down

Jill LaBrack

Folk-gothic, ghost-ridden debut channels Marianne Faithfull meeting Nick Drake and punching him in the head. Now mandatory for cross-country drives.


Tara Angell

Come Down

Label: Rykodisc
US Release Date: 2005-02-22
UK Release Date: 2005-02-21
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Some CDs just beckon the open road. They sound world-weary, lonely, heartbroken, and truthful to the point of making others uncomfortable. Somehow, they do all that and still manage to evoke excitement. There's comfort in acknowledging the misery of human existence. Stripped down to nothing, anything can become an adventure.

Tara Angell's debut, Come Down, sounds like a switch cut through a country. Take forests and deserts, cities and rural towns, muggy heat and bitter cold, and she has a song for you. Dawn? Midnight? She's there, waiting with a guitar. With her Marianne Faithfull-esque voice, her crack musicians, and a theme of strength amongst ruin, Tara Angell is out to compete for your attention. She deserves it.

It all starts with the line "Slowly numbing myself". Angell goes on to sing the chorus of "Untrue" like a mantra: "I am untrue". Three small words, but the power and expressiveness behind her voice are undeniable. The song retains a creepy feeling of ghosts in the attic and under the floorboards. That opening song sets the stage for eleven more songs of bleak truth about shattered promises. As informed by the opening track, there is no finger pointing, which is refreshing. Or, if there is, it is just as likely to be pointed back at the narrator. When singing the simple, oft-repeated pop music line of "I am never going to love you again" ("When You Find Me"), Angell conjures Scrawl's Marcy Mays (the indie-rock queen of self-doubt). The line becomes not a statement, but rather an incantation, a plea to make these words come true.

Warmly produced by Joseph Arthur, the music matches the mood of the lyrics. It's wonderful to hear such lucid guitar playing on "The World Will Match Your Pain". One imagines a late night party, winding down, left with people who are not your friends. Suddenly, someone pulls out their six-string and lulls you into remembering beauty. The following track, "Bitch Please", emphasizes the guitar in a different manner. It starts as a simple, hippie-ish jam. Talking and laughing are featured in the background. The listener senses things kicking in but they never really do. There's just an unexpected squall of noise about two-thirds of the way through the song (turn it up loud enough and it'll scare you). This may sound like a complaint but actually, "Bitch Please" sounds like nothing less than a great Replacements tune (including that title). Elsewhere, the musicians -- Joseph Arthur (bass, keyboards, guitar), Brian Geltner (drums, percussion), Kenny Siegel (guitar) -- add such texture and atmosphere with so few instruments (relatively speaking) as to render other bands as amateurish.

If "Come Down" has a fault, it is in repetition. A couple songs sound like they need a direction to travel in, and since Angell's style is distinctive, this sort of plodding is only underscored. Lyrically, the same complaint arises. There are some lines where one feels Angell could have come up with a few more words instead of relying on a repeated phrase. However, this remains an extremely promising debut. More than that, it is a debut that invites you to spend some long hours with it, preferably alone (as opposed to those "promising debuts" that mean "just wait for the next one"). That's why the road seems like the best place to hear "Come Down". Traveling by yourself, aware of the passage of miles and time, Tara Angell will let you know how fragile everything outside of your windshield actually is, and then she will show you the hidden strength in acknowledging that very fact.

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
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


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.