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Ryan Adams- Afraid, Not Scared
Ryan Adams told Q in reference to Love Is Hell, “I wanted to make a druggy suicide record; a record that really sounded like cracking up.” and he certainly succeeded. There’s a lonely claustrophobia-inducing atmosphere that blankets the entire record, along with large amounts of paranoia and hopelessness. Even the more uptempo tracks like Love Is Hell and This House Is Not For Sale have depressing and devastating lyrics. I hadn’t listened to this record in a while because I just couldn’t handle that much angst in one sitting, but I revisited it last night and was reminded how great an album it is.
Afraid, Not Scared is one of the album’s best tracks. The reverb on Ryan’s voice gives it a wearier and deeper tone than usual which matches the dark imagery and pain in the lyrics. The quiet desperation in the first half of the song builds up to the hypnotic and climactic repetitions of “I’m getting really cold and I’m looking at you, you’re not moving” where Adams’ voice expresses all the panic and terror that was being hidden under a calm veneer before, while the intrumental outro provides a crushing conclusion.
The album has plenty of other highlights, like Political Scientist, Ryan’s famous cover of Wonderwall, I See Monsters, and Hotel Chelsea Nights, so you should definitely give it a listen if you’re at all interested. At points it’s reminiscent of the Smith’s more somber moments (which makes sense since Ryan enlisted John Porter, one of their producers, to produce this record) or what I think would’ve happened if Jeff Buckley had lived and developed a drug problem. If that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what could.
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But long before Morrissey was a pop star, he was a practiced and accomplished fan, and it’s this discernment and familiarity that make his later (Patti) Smith tributes a more reasonable fist. The two have much in common in their reference set, most clearly their poetic sensibility – Rimbaud and Ginsberg feature heavily – and in their vocal style. When, in 2005, Morrissey released Smith cover, ‘Redondo Beach’, as a double A-side (B/W ‘There Is A Light that Never Goes Out’) to promote Live At Earl’s Court, what’s odd – if one looks past the arrangement – is how comfortably Morrissey’s phrasing nestles into Smith’s melody. There’s less than expected to choose between Morrissey’s lilt and croon and Smith’s more ragged vocal style.
Umm…how did I not know a Morrissey cover of Redondo Beach existed until now? It works surprisingly well, and although it’s (of course) not as good as the original, Morrissey’s vocal is much more accessible than Patti’s, which draws your attention to the song’s lyrics more fully.
Coheed and Cambria- A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours (The Smiths cover) (via The Awl)
So The AV Club had Coheed and Cambria cover The Smiths (which really just shouldn’t be done. Even Jeff Buckley couldn’t pull it off, and he managed to cover Strange Fruit and sound good), and I steeled myself for disaster, since it’s not like C&C has put out anything good since I was in high school (Man, writing that makes me feel like such a pretentious hipster douche, but it’s totally true! I thought they were interesting sophomore year and then they quickly fell from grace.) BUT it’s seriously awesome. The instrumental work is understated and delicately beautiful, while the vocal has a warmth and sadness which undercuts the lyrical content in a different way than Morrissey’s sardonic delivery on the original (and, you know, everything ever).
Hmm, I really should cool it with the parenthetical asides, I overuse that shit so much, but it’s just so easy.