Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Album of the Week: Chandelier by Autumn

2017 probably,no, make that was the worst year ever for me. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for me. I experienced both loss and trauma (physical and emotional). Losing a parent was the icing on the cake (of awfulness that happened to me last year) which led me to shut down both physically and emotionally (it didn't  help that one of my favorite tattoo artists I had work done died unexpectedly too just weeks after my father passed away), I essentially isolated myself from the concert scene. I did get out to go to the Chelsea Wolfe/Youth Code and KMFDM concerts in October, and Book of Love in December. Going out for those shows did help but that sense of peace and contentment did not last long since the holidays were right around the corner (which makes grieving a lot more difficult) however in those months I have been in a self-imposed exhile (or hibernation as I often refer to my isolation or exhile) I did have some things to look forward to in the new year (my upcoming trip to Chicago to see Nightwish and the long awaited third album Chandelier by Autumn (US) ). Those two things were what kept me going day by day and not wish for wanting to fall off the face of the earth (but I still want to see the human race nuked into kingdom come).

After a month long delay, Chandelier finally dropped on 3/23. I have to admit, I am kinda glad it was pushed back. I love that sense of anticipation of new music (trips to Chicago, and tattoo appointments). I had pre-ordered the digital copy of the album like a couple of weeks in advanced so when I got up in the morning, first thing I did when I turned on my laptop was to listen to Chandelier. That says a lot about how excited I was about the album. Of course I also ended up buying a CD copy of the album. That was a absolute must for me.

I can't believe this is the first album Autumn has released since Return to the Breath which came out in 2001. The band just picked up where they left off with their second album as if it was just yesterday and not 17 years ago. The wait for Chandelier was absolutely worth every damn second and eye roll (when I found out it was pushed back a month for its release...LOL). Apparently time has not affected the band as noted later in the post.

The first time I listened to Chandelier, my initial reaction was that the music is more upbeat than on the previous two albums. Just listen to the opening track "Beginnings". I knew immediately that the tone of this album would be different from its predecessors (and that it would be another classic Autumn album). The song cheers me up when I am irritated by my coworkers and have to listen to this album. Great way to kick off the album and despite the adjustments in tempo on a few tracks, the energy of the album never stops. The second thing I noticed is how much the band has grown and matured over the years and it shows in the lyrics which covers hope, loss, and love. The fury often heard in the first two albums have definitely been tempered by time. The band has definitely grown since their first two albums and it can be seen and heard in their music and lyrics.

The flow of the album is absolutely perfect. The tempo of the songs ebbs and flows like the ocean waves. Nothing sounds out of place. After that excellent remix of "The Fall", I was thrilled to see some of that electronic influences seep into the album. Totally dug the trip hop vibe of "Away". The musicianship is bloody amazing as ever. Bassist Jeff Leyda lays the foundation for the band's music with his pulsating basslines. I really recommend checking out his work on "Away" and "A Vow Worth Keeping". Neil Mckay completely shreds on guitar, go check out "the maiden's child" and "a vow worth keeping". His work on those songs is amazing. I love listening to them as loud as I can without wanting to go deaf :P. I certainly can hear a lot of his favorite post-punk bands shine throughout the album.

And finally...Julie Plante. She is an incredible singer as well as a pianist. I was thrilled to finally hear a track with just her and and a piano on "Just before the storm". Not often do a lot of songs leave me speechless but that song did that to me when I first listened to Chandelier. I knew Julie was a talented pianist (go listen to the song "The Hating Tree" and it closes out with her on the piano). Such a gorgeous piano ballad. I always wanted to hear an entire song with just Julie an the piano after her work on "The Hating Tree" and I am super glad she took that risk and did it for the album. To this listener, I got a really better idea on how amazing Julie's vocal range is. Generally over time, a singer's voice changes and not necessarily in a good way (i.e the late Whitney Houston) but time has definitely been very kind to Julie. I honestly think her vocal range hasn't been affected by time which from what I have read happens to all singers. If it has, I hadn't noticed any effects of time on Julie's voice. For all I care, she could sing the phone book and I would still listen. I do love it when Julie becomes forceful in her delivery like on "The Maiden's Child" and with Neil's searing guitar riffs and Jeff's rhythmic bass lines, the results is contagious and in your face (or ears in this case ;)). And her lyrics are essentially poetry. Beautiful poetry for sure. A lot of it speaks to me considering the crap I went through last year.  Regarding lyrics, I would say my favorite tracks are "At Summer's End", "Damage", and "Just before the storm'. You can read them on the band's bandcamp page. Just click on each song or move your mouse until you see lyrics pop up.

Before I forget...I would love to say William Faith did a fantastic job at producing Chandelier. He did a wonderful job on The Hating Tree (my favorite album) as we well as on Chandelier. William definitely deserves credit for his work on Chandelier and I love his remix of "The Fall" on the single which he gave the band a completely new sound. I will have to admit, I did not like the production on Return to the Breath (the band's music and Julie's voice was muddled up in production IMO), I was a glad William returned as producer for a second time. I can hardly wait for his band The Bellwether Syndicate to put out new music which should be sometime this year. I hope they and Autumn end up doing a live show in the Twin Cities.

Normally I would recommend songs to check out but I can't. All the songs are fantastic. Trying to pick favorite songs would be like asking me to pick my favorite tattoo out of the 29 tattoos I am covered in  ;). I just can't. Just listen to the damn album. Oh and please buy it :).

Here is a great article on the band I just found:

Just a personal note...thanks to Autumn for mentioning me in your liner notes. You have absolutely no idea how much I appreciate the mention, not to mention how much your music meant to me for the past several months since the awfulness of last year which was a massive dumpster fire. I have found solace in your music  both new and old, and it has given me back some joy in my life again. Congratulations on the new album! It's brilliant!

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