I have to be completely honest with you all, my loyal readers. There
is really hardly nothing that Mark Lanegan touches that is
not gold to my ears. Since I was a younger lad and listening to the
heavy throes of The Screaming Trees I have been entranced with
the man's voice and style, wishing I could have just a bit of that
style for my own. But I digress.
For those that do not already know, The Gutter Twins is the
brainchild of former Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers/etc.
frontman Greg Dulli, and the other half of the twins is the
aforementioned Lanegan. The songs on the debut release from the collaboration
are as dark and as heavy as one would imagine coming from such a motley,
disillusioned pair. To further their despair and depth the guys have
enlisted a range of talent, including indie alt. favorite Jeff
Klein (who occasionally shares songwriting credits as well as
lays down guitar and keys) and New Orleans' guitar wonderboy Dave
Rosser. There are a few other guest appearances on the album that
help to diversify the sound, including guest vocals from Martina
Topley-Bird ("The Body") and violin courtesy of Petra
Haden ("I Was In Live With You").
The album begins with the throbbing dark of "The Stations",
a track which lays down the foreboding sense that encompasses the
entire record, laying down the perfect introduction to a record of
deep secrets. "God's Children" shows the band capable of
tracking some heavy rock riffage while bringing to light some of Dulli's
most engaging songwriting to date. The nightmare lullaby of "All
Misery/Flowers" is filled with what would seem petty rhymes that
somehow transcend their literary meanings and enhance the steady rocking
of the drums, creating an almost hypnotic form, drawing in and capturing
the listener's soul. By the time the album gets to the incredible
sonic glory of "Idle Hands" the listener will find themselves
turning on all the lights and checking closets for hidden devils.
"Idle Hands" is a modern masterpiece, featuring guest vocals
from Joseph Arthur and some great drumming from percussion
wunderkind Cully Symington. There are moments on the record
that are a bit lighter, like "The Body", which moves into
a lighter, more major key and gives the listener a quick release from
the heavy-handedness of the album before launching back into more
but even in its major key the song has a bit of foreboding
and delicate fear interlaced through its chords.
If you've been following Greg Dulli over the past few years then
you already know how he has changed his tact on rock music, choosing
to feature some great guests in his dark, slow project The Twilight
Singers. But on Saturnalia, Dulli finds accomplices set to
help him unleash the rock and roll beast that he's kept carefully
hidden of late. The record has something for everyone, as long as
what everyone wants is a slice of the coolest darkness that rock has
had to offer in the last few years. So listen up, you rockers, you
gothies, you rolled-up-jeans-wearing rockabillies. Turn to The Gutter
Twins, face your inner fears and become a better person for it. Hear
the gospel of darkness as you may not have ever heard it before. Right
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