James William Hindle: self-titled

Dave Heaton

James William Hindle

James William Hindle

Label: Badman Recording Co.
US Release Date: 2001-10-31

Emptiness hangs in the air throughout James William Hindle's self-titled album, along with an eternal search for something to grasp onto. The album's eight tracks, a mix of originals and covers, exude a feeling of quiet melancholy, the atmosphere that reigns when you're gently, sadly walking through the world watching other people and their lives while pondering your own, considering major changes.

That constant consideration brings with it feelings of uneasiness and anxiety, anticipation and loneliness. Hindle's words trap those feelings in mid-air, making them as clear as they can be. Take these lyrics from the first track, "Down and Able", an example, as he paints a portrait of stillness: "Four weeks seem endless when you're stuck in the first one / And now it's four in the morning, it feels like the light will never come."

Each song's beginning offers the sense that the narrator's finding himself at a pivotal place in his life, that so much more has come before than us listeners can know (more heartbreak, more joy, more complexities, more everything) and that now is the time to figure out what comes next. That sense is conveyed through the notes and sounds as much as the words. Hindle's melodic pop-folk songs immediately transport you into a certain state of being, an emotional place more than a geographic one. Hindle's voice also has the perfect mix of weariness and optimism, giving the songs hope to match their sadness. And it'd be foolish to overlook the role the instrumentation plays in creating an atmosphere here. Acoustic guitar, bass and drums give everything a sparse, raw feel, and then on several tracks there's the sublime addition of beautifully heartwrenching stings.

Hindle, from Yorkshire, England, recorded this album in San Francisco, California (with the help of a few notable musicians including Tarnation's Paula Frazer, who sings a gorgeous duet with Hindle on the song "Sparky Marcus", and American Music Club's Tim Mooney), and released it through Badman Recording Co., a label run by Mark Kozelek, who with the Red House Painters and solo has made a career of capturing atmospheres similar in spirit to those of Hindle. While I don't know whether Hindle has moved to the US or was just visiting, the fact that the album's roots cross countries jibes well with the album's theme of making decisions with your life. For while many of Hindle's songs deal with love relationships there's also the recurrent theme of the directions our lives take, of how we act on a daily basis and why.

That theme builds to the album's final track, its most hopeful point, a cover of Glenn Campbell's "Less of Me". The song is a manifesto of sorts, or a prayer . . . a wish to do better with one's life, to think less selfishly. It provides nice closure to the album, leaving listeners with the thought that there are ways to fill the emptiness, that the difficult choices we make in our lives can take us in positive, meaningful directions as well as confusing and complicated ones.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

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

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