Sunday, 18 July 2010

she took the oldsmobile out past condor avenue

I'm listening to From a Basement On the Hill as I type this, so I guess that makes me somewhat of a hypocrite (since I can't play what I want when I want.) Roman Candle is the 1994 debut of the great Elliott Smith, an uber-depressed, quasi-folk singer. Here he keeps the majority of the material acoustic, and he strikes gold. The title/opening track is a soft-toned but vicious "ode" to an abusive boyfriend of an acquaintance. Condor Avenue is probably the best track; you can hear Smith's multilayered harmonies really shine. Also included are four "No Name" tracks (the smooth No Name #1 and harmonica-sprinkled No Name #2 being the best) that would later be followed up by No Name #5 on Either/Or. Everything is really mood, and his refusal to shout only makes it moodier. Some of the tension is relieved by the conclusion of the album, an instrumental country melody strangely entitled "Kiwi Mad Dog 20/20." Having listened to Roman Candle for the first time in physics months back, it really cemented my respect for Elliott Smith. He quickly replaced Beck as my favorite solo-artist and is probably one of the most genuinely depressing figures in rock.

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