Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Record Review //
"A Rag of Colts: Disgraced Songs 1987-2012"
(Gertrude Tapes)

$17 //
Edition of 300 //
https://thegertrudetapes.bandcamp.com/album/a-rag-of-colts-disgraced-songs-1987-2012 //

Sam Raimi has this theory about how he doesn't release deleted scenes as bonus material for his movies because he feels as if they were deleted for a reason, that whole idea of if he wanted people to see them he would have put them in the movie.   What sticks out most about this title is "Disgraced Songs", as I feel like they are songs which maybe were left off of albums in the past and maybe somehow by someone's standards not deemed good enough for whatever reason and those sorts of songs always seem to appeal to me for whatever reason.   Maybe I feel like they're rejected and I can relate more to rejects than that which is accepted, popular.

Simon Joyner has had quite the time making music- since 1990.   To say he's been around seems like an understatement and as such a lot of the artists I can hear within these songs are not influences of Simon Joyner but it's more of the other way around, which just feels crazy to think about.   One influence that I hear in here though that I think actually did influence Simon Joyner would be Bob Dylan.   There is that definite storyteller-folk-rock feeling which draws me back almost instantly to Dylan.

The songs are mostly acoustic but other instruments come in like a harmonica.   It feels like something from the Empire Records soundtrack, Ben Kweller or even The Get Up Kids.   It's lo-fi in the way that there is static coming through with the vocals, a minimal recording effort type of feel, which I also love.   I always feel like (and this is not to disrespect or undersell anyone else) those who record into old, broken-feeling tape recorders are the most passionate about music.   Having a studio that costs $1000/hour to use must be great and I'm not saying good music can't come from it, but you just feel like people using whatever means they can to make sure their music is heard really feel it the most and that's how I feel listening to this.

Before the song "May Day, 1941" there is a message left on an answering machine (I would assume, not a voicemail) where someone from MCA Records is asking to hear one of his tapes-- they're saying they want him to send a tape because they're likely interested in potentially signing him.   Wow does that take me back.   See, before you could say "Here's a link to my SoundCloud", people used to take demo tapes as ways of getting their music out there.   Even when CDs were made, it took a while for them to be recordable and still cassettes remained less expensive, so, yes, this idea of someone soliciting a cassette to potentially sign Simon Joyner just hits fairly close to home for me.

The song itself- "May Day, 1941"- comes through like a car crash and yet as you can feel it breaking down before your very ears, there is still this rhythm to it that you have to only wonder how it can be created in such madness-- how such a seemingly uncontrollable substance can be controlled.     "Begging On My Knees Blues" has a rough sound to it as well, and it comes with an introduction indicating as much, but it still is a lot better than many songs I hear on a day to day basis.   "When People Lose Their Color" closes out Side A and it's a stripped down number with only vocals that you have to experience once in your life because if it doesn't give you chills you might truly be dead inside.

On the flip side we open up with a song that is about as destructive musically as "May Day, 1941" and then go into a softer ballad called "September Said" which is about how all someone brings is pain and I can relate to that.    Many of these songs seem like love letters to someone.    "When criminals go clean they nearly never find their way" - that is so true.  I feel like there are just certain things which become a part of us and we cannot let them go.   It's weird and somewhat sad to say, but it's life.

"Your Record Sounded So Beautiful (When I Was Drunk)" has a softer side to it, like a Two Gallants ballad.    "You Take A Train, I'll Take A Bus" is a faster acoustic song, what some these days might call folk punk.    The rest of these songs are mostly mellow and they feel like you're just going to fade off into the night.   The final sound you hear is a clip of the words "MCA Records" on a short loop and it just takes me back to the earlier clip which I found so noteworthy.    These songs may feel "disgraced" but they are among the best I've ever heard and if you've not heard the music of Simon Joyner yet I would highly recommend starting here.

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