Gravel voiced alt. rock icon Mark Lanegan returns with an exclusive, vinyl only EP of some of the more offbeat cuts from the sessions for the forthcoming album, 'Phantom Radio'. Melding the singer's soulful take on gothic americana that reaches back to Howling Wolf with his love of krautrock, the paisley underground and UK post-punk.
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- No Bells On Sunday by Mark Lanegan Band
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I’ve just had the long-lost final recordings of the Screaming Trees to write about, and now it’s time for something a little more current - a new EP from Mark Lanegan’s band, Mark Lanegan Band.
I’ve found his post-ST efforts a little hit and miss, with that recent album that everybody liked going right over my head, although this reinvention from grunge crooner to experimental gothic pop figurehead does have its intriguing moments he’s not quite got the consistency or gravitas of a Tom Waits or a Nick Cave.
One of those intriguing moments does however appear right at the start of this EP on ‘Dry Iced’, which sees him accompanied by synth drones and drum machine thuds as he keens huskily over the top like a Lynchian ballad infected by ‘I Feel Love’ Moroder synths. It’s long and repetitive and minimal in a way that sometimes brings to mind Suicide, but with none of their misanthropic tension. ‘No Bells On Sunday’ continues this slow synth-led theme in almost Christmassy style with some lovely moody Mellotron and Moog drifting about the place but a more weary and resigned pace compared to the pulsating opener - despite being shorter and less repetitive it’s outstayed its welcome by about halfway through.
Overleaf ‘Sad Lover’ mixes Screaming Trees-ish grunge-pop with a motorik beat and some bright krautrocky synths for a bouncy neon knees-up, then there’s a little string-laden ballad of little consequence ‘Jonas Pap’, before the EP’s other highlight turns up right at the end. ‘Smokestack Magic’ mixes subtle Pet Shop Boys-ish synthpop with a theatrical vocal performance from Lanegan on a lengthy slow-burner which blossoms into a heady swamp of droning synth tones and rhythmic loops that’s got a wonderfully three-dimensional feel. A bit of a mixed bag, then (as I suppose you might expect from an EP of songs-which-didn’t-make-the-album), but if you’re a fan of Lanegan’s then this is worth picking up for the first and last tracks alone.
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