Two new releases we are featuring this week. Both are available on CD and Vinyl.
The Love Language – Ruby Red
Friends and fans of The Love Language songwriter and frontman Stuart McLamb have learned to expect a lot, but rarely in a timely manner. Completing a triumvirate of spiritual transmissions spent lost (2009’s The Love Language) and found (2010’s Libraries), 2013’s Ruby Red exorcises the transient brilliance fostered by McLamb within the sheetrock walls of the album’s namesake artist space.
Featuring over twenty musicians and straddling several time zones, McLamb borrowed heavier equipment, and held on to it longer. Initiated in a windowless unit at the fabled Ruby Red, several failed attempts and false starts at a songwriting spree landed McLamb and his engineer/case worker/boxing coach BJ Burton in Black Mountain, North Carolina, consuming every square inch of a carpeted bungalow located a few acres too close to their skittish neighbors.
Ruby Red produces new standards for the Carolina pop songbook, finding The Love Language as an extroverted community art project made by responsible citizens of a loosely packed scene who know that McLamb will match whatever they contribute.
The Mountain Goats – All Hail West Texas
The last of the “all-home-recordings albums” by the Mountain Goats and the only one about which that claim is true, All Hail West Texas was originally released as a free-standing compact disc on the late, lamented Emperor Jones. That was about a decade ago. The songs were originally transferred from the cassettes onto which they were recorded to 1/4″ reels at Tiny Telephone by Alex Newport, who also played in Fudge Tunnel. John got really excited when he realized his tapes were being EQ’d by the guy from Fudge Tunnel.
Remastered from those reels, along with 7 unearthed songs from the two surviving contemporaneous cassettes, All Hail West Texas stands as the peak of the Mountain Goats’ home recording era, a time people like to refer to as “when John Darnielle had his four-track,” except John did not actually use a four-track. He used the condenser mic of a Panasonic boombox and there was no overdubbing. All songs recorded on the day they were written, usually within minutes of the actual composition. Highlights include “Jenny,” “Fall of the Star High School Running Back,” and “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton,” a song which has compelled audiences around the globe to yell “Hail Satan,” and to mean it.
Package art features a newly penned 1,800-word essay by John detailing his songwriting and recording process for the album.