|Hint: Follow a reviewer to be notified when they post reviews.|
Christians & Lions - More Songs For Dreamsleepers...
Reviewed by: crit
|I'll admit it right off the bat: I've been listening to and loving Ben Potrykus' bands for almost a quarter of my life. First it was The Drive/Fake ID. After that it was The Receiving End of Sirens (for those who don't know, Ben was the original vocalist for the group, before he and the band went their separate ways.) Not too long after that, it was The Lido Venice, and finally, Sharp Teeth. This year we are treated to his newest and greatest ensemble, Christians & Lions. As per usual, a new project means a new genre, but the same end result: great lyrics and great music.|
While the days of The Drive and TREOS are far behind, there are elements of The Lido Venice on this album, but overall, this is a shift to a mellower, folkier sound with an omnipresent blues and jazz influence. One thing that surely carries over from TLV is the mouthful of an album title. (TLV's 2004 EP, also released on ECA, was entitled Songs Written Around the Campfire in the Belly of a Whale.) The album kicks off with "Longboy," a great opener. As soon as you start tapping along with the drums, in come the vocals from Ben and his brother Sam, and you'll soon find yourself singing right along with them. This is one of the catchier songs on the album, lyrics like "ignorance is bliss and it's something we'll miss / should we choose to open up both of our eyes / you know I'm having these symptoms too / is there really nothing any of us can do?" are sure to get lodged in your brain for days on end. Next is "Stay Warm," an upbeat number with more great, catchy, clever lyrics: "if we only find ourselves in decision / and we only find ourselves indecision / will we have found the solvent or the solution? / the truth’s in you and it’s bruising through when you’re provoked / open notes from open throats rattle down closed circuit hopes / like all those little bones that choke up lonely in the cold / please don’t choke up in the cold.”
One of the real highlights of the album is track four, "Sexton Under Glass." Behind the vocals, it features just an acoustic guitar and slow, rolling drums from Chris Mara. The album version of this song is dramatically slower than the older version, which can be heard on Sharp Teeth's Myspace for those interested. It was a great song before, and C&L have taken it to an even greater level. This song stood out to me on the first listen more than any other track.
The next track, “Gimme Diction,” shows off Ben’s talent as a wordsmith, constructing words and sentences that just plain sound good. “It’s like some overbearing tax on praxis / how I’m supposed to feel bad for this / when all I’ve sworn to do / is hold soul like cold and haunted bronchial tubes” begins the song, in which he goes on to spew “no one finds truth amongst tooth that march round my parched mouth / slinging science to the beat of their own guns” and “I won’t baby you / won’t wipe your mouth when the shit-talk stops” before Chris Barrett’s trumpet comes in to help close the song out.
“Skinny Fists,” is hands down the best song on the album. The lyrics are the best you’ll find on the disc (“we only want to level this city because things are so uneven”) and the song itself is great; it starts off slow and soft, picks up, climaxes, and then closes out with almost two full instrumental minutes. This is my favorite song of the year.
“Tender Sparks (October and Over)” is just that; a short, tender, soft song driven by soft percussion and a simple acoustic guitar. “Some Trees” begins with a blast from Barrett’s trumpet, and with it he guides the song through its two and a half minutes. While I wrote “Landing” off after the first listen, a few more spins proved it was a solid track, but possibly too long for it’s own good.
All in all, this is a fantastic album, and easily one of the years best. Although the final cut seems to drag on too long, the album itself is short; the ten songs play in just over thirty minutes. Two tracks approach the five-minute mark, and all but one of the rest are under three minutes. Don't let one of the years best works fly under your radar, do yourself a favor: check out this band, pick up this album. This is another great step forward in the career of a musician who gets better and better by the band, by the album, by the song. Perhaps in “A Root’s Grave is Above Ground” he says it best: “Momma didn’t raise no fool.”
1. Longboy (2:41)
2. Stay Warm (1:57)
3. Bones (2:56)
4. Sexton Under Glass (4:48)
5. Gimme Diction (2:54)
6. A Root's Grave is Above Ground (2:28)
7. Skinny Fists (3:52)
8. Tender Sparks (October & Over) (1:37)
9. Some Trees (2:25)
10. Landing (4:53)
The album was performed by...
Ben Potrykus who plays guitar, saw & sings.
Sam Potrykus who plays bass & sings.
Matt Sisto who plays guitar, organ & piano.
Chris Mara who plays drums & aux percussion.
Chris Barrett who plays trumpet.
Performances were captured by...
Jack Younger at Basement 247 in Allston, MA.
And then mastered by...
Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East in Boston, MA.
The album was produced by Jack Younger and Christians & Lions.
What others are saying:
"..something somehow comfortable, yet unsettling...like a cadillac that someone died in." - Jack Younger, Basement 247
"...smart, textured indie folk reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel" - The Boston Phoenix
"...you best start paying attention to these guys now. They're simply too good to ignore." - Matt DuFour, TheTripwire.com
Release Date: 11/07/06
Record Label: ECA Records
Band website / Myspace
08:40 AM on 11/06/06
Good review -- I'll check 'em out.
08:50 AM on 11/06/06
pressure's mountin',I don't Everest
I feel almost exactly the same. Fucking great album.
05:38 PM on 11/06/06
thanks! and awesome, I hope you enjoy them.
01:54 PM on 11/30/06
great album, will make my top ten
09:02 AM on 12/07/06
Live Together, Die (M)alone
great review crit, i've been listening to this album non stop lately
02:17 PM on 01/02/07
thank you! glad to hear you enjoy it!
Buy the Music