Sunday, June 30, 2024

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there!   

Crowded House has a new album: Gravity Stairs

I have never not bought one of their albums, or Neil Finn's solo work, or the disks he puts out with his brother, Tim.  I wasn't about to start now. 

With eight group disks over 38 years, the band has had five different iterations, with only Neil Finn and Nick Seymour being the constants. What that in mind, save 3-4 disks, the rest are variations of what one thinks Crowded House should be.....or was. Myself included. 

It takes awhile to put aside your bias on what I think and what the band now is. I'm very protective of those first four disks. All of them stand-outs in their own way, but even those differ. 

The cover itself is very Beatle-esque - Revolver influenced......or homaged at the very least. 

Neil Finn has the bulk of the songwriting credits, though he shares a few songs with his sons who are now in the band. Finn, for the last 38 years (+) has been one of the best songwriters out there. He is unappreciated (or at least under appreciated) in this regard. 

The musicianship is impeccable. Gravity Stairs is more consistent in nature than their last disk from three years ago

"Magic Piano" is a good opener and has a decent Alan Parsons vibe. In a good way. 

"the Howl" is pure Neil Finn, except that it was written and sung by one of his sons, Liam. It is a really good song, good rhythm and pacing. For me, it's the highlight

"Black Water, White Circle" has a bossa nova like thing going on. More in the music than the vocal, but it's different, in the positive sense. Actually, a lot of the disk is, even if it's not quite geared to the hit single mode. 

Their first two releases were just ok:  "Oh Hi" and "Teenage Summer".  Their fine, but that's about where it ends. Radio certainly didn't latch onto them. "the Howl" is the third release, so maybe that will get them exposure. 

I'm also liking "I Can't Keep Up with You".  "Thirsty" stands out due to its sparseness. I gotta say, Finn does a stripped down song on most any disk with which he's involved - solo or band. 

I really want to like "Some Greater Plan (for Claire)" as it was Neil's one collaboration on this disk with Tim. Usually they do really well together.  The lyrics were crafted from their father's diary during wartime. It is beautifully done, but it just doesn't click with me. 

Still, Gravity Stairs warrants a listen. 

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