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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lincoln - Mettle

Name: Lincoln
Album: Mettle
Year: 2002
Style: Quiet Folk, Country, Americana
Similar Bands: Bonnie Prince Billy, Neil Halstead, quiet Belle & Sebastian songs, Lewis & Clarke, later Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Mazzy Star
"One-Word" Review: Hauntingly Minimal Winter Soundscapes
Based Out Of: London, England
Label: Narwhal Records, 3MV/Pinnacle, BMG
Mettle - Cover, Back, CD
Mettle - Liner Notes 1-2, CD Back
Mettle - Liner Notes 3-4, CD tray
Mettle - Liner Notes 5-6
Mettle - Liner Notes 7-8
Mettle - Liner Notes 9-10

Mettle (2002)
  1. My Reasons Are My Own 5:51
  2. Great Wall of China 5:11
  3. Interlude #3 0:56
  4. Crooked Smile 3:12
  5. Interlude #5 0:51
  6. Blood on the Streets 6:03
  7. Ghost Cat 4:41
  8. Interlude #8 0:45
  9. Mettle 5:47
  10. Interlude #10 1:35
  11. Never See London Again 5:57
  12. Common Ground 3:24
  13. How the Hell 4:33
  14. Interlude #14 1:40
Album Rating (1-10): 5.5

Members & Other bands:
Alex Gordon - Vocal, Guitar, Trumpet, Leys
Crum Hall - Drum, Percussion, Melodica, Violin, Vocal
David Hannam - Guitar, Clarinet, Harmonium, Banjo, Conductor (Culprit One)
Matt Dowse - Trombone, Fender Rhodes, Wine Glasses (Calexico, King Prawn)
Jum Freidlander - Bass, Trumpet, Wine Glasses, Art, Design, Photography
Tracy Van Daal - Vocal, Wine Glasses (Richard X)
Oliver Kraus - String Arrangement, Cello
Sophie Sirota - Viola
Howard Gott - Violin
Ali Friend - Upright Bass
Tom Hodges - Saw
Brian O'Shaughnessy - Overdub & Production
Sean Reed - Producer

Unknown-ness: I've never heard this Lincoln before. The problem is that I like the US band Lincoln, so I picked up this band with the same name, except they're from the UK. I remember listening to a little of it and putting it aside since it was not the band that I liked, but I cannot remember what this band sounded like. With all the instruments, and liner note of it being recorded in an open room, I'm guessing it is some kind of orchestral genre. Maybe I'll like this for different reasons? We shall see.

Album Review: “My Reasons Are My Own” begins with a sad, solemn piano. The vocals quietly start in, reminding me of Bonnie Prince Billy or Neil Halstead. They quiver and shake in their wispiness, and guide the slow melody, like snow falling outside a cabin window. A solidarity trumpet is added, and the song has moved to a quiet Belle & Sebastian song. The musical intermission brings a little peaceful country slide guitar to the front before returning for one last stanza. The song finishes out as quietly as it began, fading to the back.
“Great Wall of China” builds musically and orchestrally in the beginning, again like a frigid and frosty forest scene. The vocals are again, a faint whisper gently flowing with the melody. In the chorus, there is a female backing vocal, adding richness and emphasis to the lead. Musically, it reminds me of the quiet aspects from bands like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Shout Out Louds, and Noah & The Whale.
“Interlude #3” is composed of a slowly building sunrise feeling.
“Crooked Smile” is more country than before, reminding me of later Gorky’s minus the accent. The vocals are shared guy/girl bringing that richness to the music. The horn section gives off a drunken lazy atmosphere. This song is sunnier and more down home, classic folk-country style. Perhaps Americana is the correct term.
“Interlude #5” starts with a sad bugle horn, and is added to with very minor supportive instrumentation for its short song
“Blood on the Streets” slowly sings along with female only vocals at first. The male accompaniment joins in and signals the song to start with another sunrise, awakening section. The song fakes moments where the pace might pick up, but it settles back into something consistent, and driving in its own swaying tempo. The songs feel longer than they are because they do drag, which is by design. The female vocals remind me a little of Neko Case.
“Ghost Cat” is an instrumental that continues the haunting, echoing, atmosphere, with only a trumpet to break through the sorrowful fog.

“Interlude #8” is a whirling echoing musical wind chime instrumental.“Mettle” slows down to a near halt with echoing slide guitar and piano chords played at a very methodically slow pace. This is very sparse and atmospheric. Near the end, the backing female vocals are added, sounding like it was sung in the round.
“Interlude #10” is another cold morning daybreak theme.
“Never See London Again” is a sad, minimal yet soulful female sung less-than-ballad. After about 2 minutes, more Mazzy Star elements are added, and the song becomes a slow country ballad.
“Common Ground” travels on the more folksy side of the genre map. It is still heavy on the slide guitar and there is a jangley guitar played sparingly in the background accompanied by some other string instruments, Cello I’d assume. The construction of these songs is not really structured with verse and chorus, they are much more free flowing.
“How the Hell” starts with sad horns and a melancholy forlorn feeling. There is a wind sound effect in the background, which is really a saw being played I believe. The female vocals, tinted with a sexy yearning, take over a little over halfway through, and the song really comes alive with a horn section, and an unprecedented strength in its composition.
“Interlude #14” ends the album with more singing saw and vocal syllables that start as nearly unintelligible, but grow in strength as the single musical idea, a reprise of How the Hell of sorts, is carried through.

Stand Out Track: My Reasons Are My Own


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