Features
Reviews
Must Hear Music
Reviews Archives
Archives
Bargain Basement
Downloads
Music DVD
Upstart
Pipsqueaks
 
 
 
Features
Reviews
Archives
Send Us Mail
Contact Us
 
 

The Royal Army Recording Co.
Contortionist Blues Vol. 1
The Royal Army Recording Co.
www.royalarmy.net


Contortionist Blues is a great title - I'm intrigued to know whether the band were thinking of an actual contortionist having a bad time, or maybe the ennui that comes from being an acrobat. That the cover art features a fish riding a bicycle doesn't help, either. Still this is no more than you'd expect from this mysterious Frostburg, MD musical collective.

Having enjoyed The Royal Army Recording Co.'s EP Mary, Your Ghost Is Showing earlier in the year, I was looking forward to their first full length effort. Contortionist Blues doesn't disappoint - it seems to be a loose sort of concept album, involving the character Mary from the previous EP, dealing with a 10 day period on the poor farm and full of RARC's trademark bright folk-pop tunes, intriguing lyrics and offbeat instrumentation.

The upbeat opener "Burn Down Your Mother's House" is a nice, Kinks-y piece of pop; it reminds me a bit of the much missed La's, too, with a couple of wig-out electric guitar breaks (at least I think so - it might be someone playing a vacuum cleaner hose). The bouncy tune contrasts nicely with the drak lyrics; overall, the most enjoyable song I've heard about arson since Grant McLennan's "Sally's Revolution".

Other songs like "Mustard Seeds" are slower and more reflective, reminding sometimes of Death Cab For Cutie without the lush production - and with, er, added flutes. "Mustard Seeds" has another of songwriter Kenny Tompkins' brilliant lines: "You are a warm white line shining long and bright on a motion picture screen for me." "The Last Night On The Farm" and "In The Morning I'll Be Gone" are other standouts, overtly country-ish with their prominent slide guitar, but made haunting and lovely by the dark lyrics and melodies.

There's an overall mixture of folky, acoustic tunes and more uptempo numbers (see the sprightly two-stepper "So Much For The Sun" for another of these - if I happened to live in a place that had such a thing as a honky tonk, I'm sure this would be playing there). Lots of nice instrumental touches appear throughout to keep things interesting; I noticed xylophones, flutes and trumpet, and I'm sure I missed a few. According to the credits, guitarist Adam Laye even doubles on paper bag !

If you heard the previous EP and want more, or if you are simply a fan of compelling, inventive alt-country-folk-pop music with a sense of fun, look no further. Me, I'm already jonesin' for Volume 2.

-Gareth Bowles


Check out more reviews

Talk Back
e-mail the chief

Like this article?
e-mail it to a friend!

 


Mike Doughty



Pink Floyd

-------


South By Southwest 2014
David DeVoe

South By Southwest 2013
David DeVoe

Red Hook Music Festival
George Dow

SXSW 2012
David DeVoe

Our Favorite Records 2011
Hybrid Staff

AWOLNation
Rachel Fredrickson

Kanrocksas
Rachel Fredrickson

Warped Tour 2011
Rachel Fredrickson

Eddie Spaghetti
Melissa Skrbic-Huss

Murder By Death
Mike DeLeo


Mike Doughty
Boulder, CO

Epilogues
Denver, CO

Imagine Dragons
Denver, CO

Sebadoh
Cambridge, MA

Young Magic
Denver, CO

Warped Tour 2012
Denver, CO

Thrice
Denver, CO

Mike Doughty
Denver, CO

MuteMath
Kansas City, MO

Other Lives
Lawrence, KS

Los Campesinos
Boston, MA

The Civil Wars
Lawrence, KS

Ha Ha Tonka
Lawrence, KS

Thrice
Lawrence, KS


 
hybridmagazine.com is updated daily except when it isn't.
New film reviews are posted every week like faulty clockwork.
Wanna write for hybrid? Send us an e-mail.
© 1996-2009 [noun] digital media. All rights reserved worldwide. All content on hybridmagazine.com and levelheadedmusic.com is the intellectual property of Hybrid Magazine and its respective creators. No part of hybridmagazine.com or levelheadedmusic.com may be reproduced in any format without expressed written permission. For complete masthead and physical mailing address, Click Here.