Tag Archive: Merge Records


WELCOMING MR M

The record that made Lambchop nearly famous was Nixon in 2000 – a sophisticated mix of Americana, soul and country rock.

But it was the more subdued follow-up, Is A Woman, two years later that I still rate as the Nashville band’s finest moment.

This was not treated with the same enthusiasm as its predecessor so, for example, we got a lukewarm Pitchfork review (although the critic did concede that it may actually be a ‘grower’ and that his piece might come back to haunt him).

Is A Woman was the type of quiet, reflective album that forces the listener to sit down and pay attention and these are not records that you write about with a deadline to keep.

I’ve been waiting 10 years for Kurt Wagner and his band to make an album with a similar degree of somber beauty and grace. Their releases in the interim haven’t been bad but somehow failed to reach the same heights. Until now, that is.

It is early days yet, since it only came out a couple of days ago, but it strikes me that Mr. M  has the same melancholy artistry as Is A Woman – beautiful string arrangements, lilting piano refrains and Kurt Wagner’s gruff, half-whispered vocals weaving a magical spell. Continue reading

I’ve never seen Richard Buckner in the flesh but from photos he always looks like someone not entirely at ease in his own body. Author, David Foster Wallace  gave me the same impression.

This would account for the dark, introspective qualities of Buckner’s songs I have always found so affecting.

He ‘s back with a new album after an unplanned delay of nearly six years. The record is called Our Blood and is already out on Merge Records.

In the UK, it is due out at the end of September on Decor records, a London based record label, management company and European booking agency. Not that you’d know this from their website as his name only comes up as a small news item and he has not yet been added to their artist list.

Don’t they realise what a quality act they have on their books?  Also, why should there be such a gap between the US and European release dates? Someone, somewhere needs to pull their finger out.

Buckner himself must be resigned to indifference, despite the brilliance of his back catalogue he remains a cult figure who has to finance his music by taking on short term construction work. In a recent interview, he takes a philosophical view about this state of affairs. Of his fellow workers, he says:  “Most people in this world don’t have an easy way to get out of these situations; they move from one hamster wheel to the next hamster wheel. I have this other life that I can go back to and take me away from that”.

He is due to do some UK dates in November, hopefully he’ll also come to Italy. You can read my glowing review of his album on Whisperin’ & Hollerin’ here. 

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