first time I saw Ken Stringfellow was
on a Sunday morning photo shoot for The Posies'first press kit. The last
time I heard from him, before this album at least, was when he
contacted anybody and everybody about an album he had just
produced for Aussie Hannah Gillespie (All
for which I will be eternally grateful (the album is
magnificent). Between those two times? Not much. Oh, I went
down to their album release party for Dear
but that was to meet with old friend Gary
had been instrumental in signing the band to Geffen. I didn't
see the band.
I guess you could say that I knew Ken and didn't. I loved The
self-produced album which later showed up on PopLlama,
liked Dear 23 and
tolerated Frosting On the Beater,
which had some pretty decent tracks, but completely lost track
of the band from that point on. A handful of years ago, I
picked up the trail again thanks to good friend Howie
had been a huge fan from the beginning (and up to the present)
and had helped the band during the early years. And I'm finding
out now that it is a trail well worth following, backwards and
Stringfellow and fellow Posie Jon
put out a library of music since those days, some as The
some as members of a re-formed Big
Add to those the myriad of projects in which they each inserted
a finger and trailing backwards becomes a monumental journey. I
gladly accept Danzig in the Moonlight as
the first stop.
Stringfellow worked on this (off and on, obviously) for eight
years. Scoff if you want, but I hear a good eight years' work
here. Eight years' hard work. Writing and separating and
refining. Writing and adjusting and feathering. Re-writing and
honing and and critiquing. Eight years! I hear every year!
includes fourteen tracks here, but you know he wrote way more
than fourteen. There have to be riffs and themes and whole
songs laying bloodied on the cutting room floor. Riffs and
themes and songs that may show up in later Stringfellow
projects but which I would give my left nut to hear right now.
Stringfellow is a craftsman when it comes to writing.
Occasionally, he is a true artist. Mostly what you get with
a slow rock ballad which builds to anthemic heights. By the
time it gets to the harmonies, it becomes more than it is. I am
always amazed when that happens--- when the song takes over the
process. There are shades of Space
makes it more than just rock, and if you know the reverence I
hold for Space
you would understand what I am saying. Songs like 4
am Birds- The End of the Night,
a densely layered, jazzy reach back to Strawberry
what a combination it is!). Songs like Drop
dramatic and theatrical and powerful enough to have been
included (in my mind) on another favorite album--- The
Death By Misadventure (another
album you should be checking out, if you haven't already). And
the eighties-sounding (for some reason, my ears are screaming
as intense and dense as it gets, my friends. Listen to the
music. Hear the words.
That's only four of the fourteen and I'm not even sure if they
are the best. They are, though, the ones which caught my ear
right off and will inevitably drag me through many many listens
until, I am sure, the music will become part of my DNA.
forewarned, though. This is not an album for the initiate. This
is intense, complicated and creative music which is well
deserving of Linus's Several Hearings Award, an award given to
only the best and only to albums which guarantee absolute
enjoyment over many listens. You won't get this album right
off--- at least, not how really good it is. There is just too
much--- too many layers and too much to really hear, at first.
God, but I dearly love albums like this. I hear good albums all
the time and some of them are way better than good, but few
have the density which allows you to peel back a different
layer each time. It is an adventure.
Ten for 2012? Easily, though I have to say that 2012 is turning
out to be an amazingly productive year for topnotch music.
Stringfellow did it right off, though, jumping in with both
feet and implanting themes and songs in my head which refuse to
leave. Right now, I'm looping You're
a Sign and
am taken by the flowing orchestral feel of the chorus. Next,
who knows? Like I said, Danzig in the
an adventure and when you listen--- I mean, really listen---
you have no choice but to go along. And it's worth it. Every