Monday, March 14, 2011

A Long-Anticipated Followup is Finally Released

In November 2001 I was reviewing CDs for the late and lamented Starvox.  I was also reeling from what I now realize was PTSD in the wake of that little unpleasantness with the Twin Towers. During that time I spent a great deal of time listening to a melancholy folk-rock CD by a band named Charlottesville, The Shark Who Pulled a Mussel.  As I said then:
Every morning I ride the subway past the open wound that used to be the World Trade Center; the stench from the ruins lingers high and acrid as an echoing scream.  Jetliners overhead make me cringe. I start crying at odd moments for no reason at all.  And over and over I've listened to Charlottesville's debut CD, The Shark Who Pulled a Mussel, and found some kind of consolation in Miles Fender and Iris Lapalme's melancholy ruminations on love, life, and loss.

Fender first achieved public notice as the leader of British goth band Earth Calling Angela. With his relocation to San Francisco came a stylistic sea change. Charlottesville has been compared by some to bands like Low and Red House Painters. I'm more reminded of the great AM pop of the 60s, with cheery optimism replaced by a wistful Remembrance of Things Past. If Brian Wilson had picked up an acoustic guitar and recorded Endless Autumn, it might have sounded something like this: at their best, Charlottesville's moody harmonies and penetrating lyrics wouldn't have been out of place on Simon & Garfunkel's Wednesday Morning 3 a.m. or The Sounds of Silence.
Ten years later Miles Fender (the guiding light behind Charlottesville and Goth rockers, Earth Calling Angela), is finally releasing a follow-up, tentatively titled The Heron That Taught Us.  While it may have taken him a while, he certainly seems to have avoided the sophomore slump.  This is a solid melodic effort and a fitting soundtrack to this season's battle with mental illness.