Matt Jones' Hepburns are back with a new album, equally well suited for the beach as for a quiet evening with the curtains pulled and fingers tracing the lyrics. It's released by Radio Khartoum, and as usual Alexander has done a good job of the cover.
I was actually surprised to notice that their previous album Trojan Hearse is already two years old. Especially since I felt it was their best work since getting back into recording in the late 90s. How the Fallen Are Mighty (a twist on 'how the mighty have fallen') builds on the feats of that album, managing to sound both instantly catchier and suggestive of a rewarding exploration of its themes and lyrics. The musical spectrum covered is wide, stretching as far back in its familiarity as the Goalmouth Incident ep (on "Vermouth" and "Growing Old"). "Writer Friend" and "Man Missing" retains the best of the urban soundtracking of Champagne Reception. Perhaps the new confidence is a result of Jones' increased collaboration with other musicians, most notably Testbild! from the Sweden, the results of which I hope to hear soon!
The title of the album is very fitting, full of odes to the odd and old as it is, but always with a finesse and perfection in delivery more fitting of Billy Childish's father than the child himself. The album also includes a tasteful instrumental, the name of which inevitably brings to mind Duffy's vibraphone tune for Felt, "Press Softly On the Brakes Holly". "Save Your Stories For the Police, Maurice" is considerably more interesting though.
How the Fallen Are Mighty will suddenly make you remember how much of the other music listened to or made today requires little thought to digest, perhaps like popcorn. This is more like pickled shark. And reading Alexander's note on the mastering and about not participating in the 'loudness wars' makes you want to give him a pat on the shoulder.
Also out on RK, is the second album from Leed's Cavil. It's a pleasure to be acquainted with them and I shall definitely give Laughing In the Morning, their first album, a listen if I come across it. That being released in France in 2002, it's taken the band quite some time to find a home for the new album. And Radio Khartoum, also being the home of Cessna, Anthony Rochester and Testbild!, is of course a very good home. Mares' Tails is a type of cloud, and its celestial and pastoral associations suggest a positive and warm musical tone, but there's not really that much in major key on the album. Most of it lingers in a meandering melancholy, like a sophisticated Iron & Wine or perhaps even Mr. Wright.
Considering I've listened plenty to all things Crépuscule lately, I must mention that LTM Publishing have just put out a new compilation drawing from the vaults of the Belgian Le Disques du Crépuscle label. Called Les Filles du Crépuscule, it features 20 tracks with female vocals. Among the many great selections you'll find Antena, Swedish translator Virna Lindt, Ludus, Mikado, Cathy Claret and Devine & Statton.