New Music 07/2018 – Gillian Welch, Savages

My recent haul from the Dixons Recycled secondhand music store in Fitzroy. Who doesn’t love a bargain?

Back in the day Dixons Recycled used to have a few stores scattered around Melbourne, and I have many fond memories of rummaging through piles of CDs at their Chapel Street outlet. Now that most people stream or download music they’ve shrunk to just a couple of stores, both way out of my way. The other weekend however I happened to be in Fitzroy, and to my delight I walked away with a couple of albums I’ve wanted for ages, for half the price asked on ebay.

Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)

I first fell in love with Gillian Welch’s soulful weathered voice and sparse folk-country sound on The Harrow & The Harvest, her most recent album with her long-time musical partner David Rawlings. This, her third album, is another wonderful collection of songs, confined mostly to vocals and acoustic guitar with an occasional twang of banjo. I can’t say I’ve ever been a huge fan of country music, but there’s something about Welch’s vulnerable voice that just tugs at my soul, never more so than in the plaintive opening title track. It’s not all sorrow and dark lamentations however, and the album has plenty of lighter, more upbeat songs and catchy melodies, including a toe-tapping live track, I Want To Sing That Rock And Roll. The last track, an almost 15-minute epic, can test the patience if you’re not in a mood for a looong slow-paced downer, but that’s a minor complaint.

Savages – Silence Yourself

First album from the British all-female post-punk quartet, whose follow-up I really enjoyed. They’re something of an oddity, out of step with the current trends as well as the post-punk revival from a few years ago; there’s a deadly seriousness to their dark ferocious music that seems to belong to a different era. How many bands these days print their personal manifesto on the album covers? As with the second record, the huge drawcard is the charismatic and distinctive vocalist Jehnny Beth, whose manic chanting on the chorus of Husbands (husbands, husbands, husbands, husbands, husbands, husbands) is one of the best things I’ve heard this year. Another standout is She Will, which feels like the best Joy Division song not written by Joy Division; I could totally imagine Ian Curtis’ gloomy baritone singing over its darkly beautiful guitar. I really need to see them live.

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