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The One Before | The One After

This is a review of the album The Inflatable Museum of Modern Art by Jeremiah N. MacBaldwin

Incidentally, I did the album artwork. How cool am I?

Semi-Tracklisting:

Bring Out Your Dead
Broken String Blues
Hang Around
Like Hell
Same Again
Sit Down


I first heard of Jeremiah N. MacBaldwin a few years ago through a friend who was in a band. Through this friend, I received a couple of mp3s from Mr. MacBaldwin's debut release, The Inflatable Museum of Modern Art. I was not disappointed.

The album is, at first, a difficult concept to grasp in this age of quick fix, 3 minute track, made for cash albums. It's very much a conceptual album, one where the listener can choose the order of the tracks to suit them.  Indeed, there are many, many more songs than I've listed here. In a rare conversation with MacBaldwin's spokesperson, I was told that this album, this Inflatable Musuem, is an open ended project, with theoretically hundreds of tracks filling the gallery. It's a novel idea, and it seems to have caught on. Ash have recently said that they are no longer to produce full size albums, favouring instead to release individual tracks for download. See Jeremiah's album like this and things get easier to comprehend.

The tracks I've listed above are just some of the songs I've managed to get hold of and review. Jeremiah MacBaldwin is an elusive character to say the least, and in trying to contact him in order for him to read this review, I received only silence. However, I've reviewed six songs for your reading pleasure, and to hear the man himself, head over to his MySpace Music page.

Hang Around is a beautifully depressive song with an amusing twist. It opens with the joyful lines "I was born under a ladder on Friday the 13th / Black cats passed and mirrors cracked right in front of me."  and just gets better. Accompanied by a happy, fast paced, Hotel Yorba-esque acoustic guitar, the tune is a novel look at life and death.

Same Again is another tune with a deceptively upbeat rhythm guitar. Played on a clean electric, the song is sung from the perspective of lads on a night out; they get rowdy, they cause trouble, they don't care about anything other than getting drunk and enjoying its effects. Arctic Monkeys are famous for singing about this kind of thing, but where the Monkeys' raw and caustic yelling leave you dancing to the tune without even hearing the song, MacBaldwin's subtle guitar and that hint of reverb on his voice makes the whole evening of debauchery seem beautiful.

If you're going to listen to one track this week, make it Sit Down. From the very start, the wonderful, BritPop-esque guitar chimes bring a smile to your face which turns into a nice, rhythmic head bopping when the speedy mantra of the song is unleashed upon your ears. It's how folk music should be: if you want, you can enjoy the catchy tune, but then if you actually heed the music there's a deeper message there. The song reads like a lesson about life in 21st century society, and finishing on "Sit down kids, you're going nowhere" just adds to the anthemic feel of it.

Like Hell has a soft, fluid intro which leads into an eerie, almost otherworldy vocal performance. It's a lament, with the narrator regretting his past actions and feeling the remorse hit him like a ton of bricks. The music never lets up nor slows down until the final chord, leaving you almost breathless and definitely thoughtful by the time the silence hits.

"I went down to Memphis, to see what I could see / I got the broken string blues in Memphis, Tennessee" shouts the opening line of Broken String Blues. This is a proper good ole blues joint, complete with fast picked clean guitar solos and a slow, brooding, Personal Jesus-like through riff. A must hear for fans of blues, guitar or awesome.

And finally... well, almost. I saved this one til last so I could listen to it a little bit longer. Jeremiah's most well known track, and available to listen to via MySpace (see above for the link) is Bring Out Your Dead.  I guess he must have known when he wrote this, but this song stands out from the rest of the bunch as an anarchic call to arms. It's a powerhouse of a song, starting with an unsettling riff and eerie vocals, it reaches a more uplifting chorus, only to plunge us back into the murky depths of the song. And then, just when you think it's going to give you more of the same, it hits you in the face with a spade, screaming "BRING OUT YOUR DEAD! BRING OUT YOUR DEAD!" on alternate speakers, accompanied by a ferocious distorted electric guitar. What follows is a distorted yelling dragging you kicking and screaming into the heavy chorus before riffing out to the end. What a rush. Frakking fantastic.

You're on the internet as you read this. Stop whatever it is you've convinced yourself is important or necessary, and get the frak over to MySpace. That's most likely the only time I'll say that.

11/12

Considering this album is not professionally recorded, Jeremiah is not a classically trained vocalist and there is room for improvement, these songs are fantastically written, sound great and the emotion in Jeremiah's voice is almost unnerving. Superb.

Best Track: I've got to go with Bring Out Your Dead for reasons of awesome. The ferocity and visceral sound of the guitars and the desperation in the vocals just leaves me breathless.

Worst Track: To be honest, this is a tough call... but I'm going to have to go with Fear Is Gonna Break Your Heart. I didn't review it because there are better tracks. The song shows a marked improvement vocally from songs such as Hang Around, but I wasn't sure about the content or the chords. Not a bad song at all, indeed, very good, but not my favourite.

 

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This is the blog of Cos Ryan, a man you've never heard of. Contained within are blogs, music, film and book reviews, essays on a variety of things and various rants and raves. Tune in, it's proper good.

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