Music

Two Dollar Guitar: The Wear and Tear of Fear

All ghostly traces and cauterized sentiments, Tim Foljhan's fifth full-length as Two Dollar Guitar considers love's aftermath in ten hauntingly minimal songs.


Two Dollar Guitar

The Wear and Tear of Fear

Subtitle: A Lover's Discourse
Label: Smells Like
US Release Date: 2006-09-19
UK Release Date: 2006-10-16
Amazon
iTunes

Love ends in a whisper on this dark and velvety album, ten fragmentary and narcotizing country soundscapes, all sentiment scraped carefully from their ominous surfaces. Tim Foljhan's fifth full-length album as Two Dollar Guitar is primarily a solo affair, his deep gothic voice embellished by minimal flourishes of guitar and cello. Lines drift off into silence here, words evaporating into bottomless pools of consideration. "I'm so tired...of this life of lies...that I live...alone", sings Toljhan in the bruised and melancholy "Cascade", the phrases so widely separated that they might not belong to the same sentence at all.

"Wide Load" is the album's hallucinatory centerpiece, wavering electronic notes and a three-note arpeggio framing murmured observations of ruined love. The song has a droning, late night hopelessness to it, a sort of burned out acceptance that's somehow more desperate than despair. The notes are strung out, barely connected to one another, in melodies spiked with tenuous silences. The effect is very much like a drug, artificial calm masking deep, submerged turbulence. It is also quite beautiful, in a foreboding, deep black sort of way, each phrase ending with the dull chant of "It's a wide load...It's a wide load".

Not all the album's songs are so dark. "Swamp Girl" has an echoey, finger-picked lightness, a country lilt bobbing under its hollow-voiced drama. And "4 O'Clock", with its mouth-right-against-the-mic vocals, puts an optimistic flurry of autoharp notes against its downbeat, after-the-break-up subject matter. Nor is there much to fear from the two gorgeous instrumentals that bookend the album. "Blue Coat and Yellow Vest" is all glistening acoustic guitar figures punctuated by sudden chords, mirage-like in its shimmery, acoustic loveliness. "The Ghost Ship", which closes the album, is denser, full of giddy guitar runs up and down the scales that double back and interlock with each other in delicate lattice patterns.

Yet enjoyable as these outings are, the album's center clearly lies in more troubled territory. "The Wear and Tear of Fear", near the end, begins with the observation, "I lost another woman / But I don't care / It looks like it's the end of fun", and ends with a call for the wrecking ball. "Who wants to care at all?" sings Foljhan in his curiously detached voice, against a wonderfully warm and organic background of guitar and surging cello. It's an almost clinical description of alienation, encased in the soft, enveloping familiarity of country music... disturbing, powerful, and weird.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

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

rating-image