Mason Jennings — Blood of Man. Out in hard copy next Tuesday, 9/15, on Brushfire Records. This is the least helpful album review you’ll read all year: it’s Mason. I think this album is unreservedly amazing, because I am incapable of being rational or objective or thoughtful about the music Mason Jennings produces, and I always will be.
But here’s me pretending: this is Jennings’ eighth (eighth!) full-length studio album; it is also the first one he’s recorded primarily on an electric guitar, which was startling and strange to me at first. It is a very weird album. It is a really excellent album, but it is very, very weird. It’s a mix of sounds and of subjects, and it shouldn’t work at all, but somehow the pacing and the arrangement of the tracks coalesces perfectly into something bigger than its individual pieces. It is an album, meant to be heard all at once, and it manages to connect and draw together all the sounds Mason’s toyed with over the years. “Pittsburgh” and “Sing Out” could have come straight off of Boneclouds. “Black Wind Blowing” reminds me of some of the ancient unreleased creepy sad stuff from his early days in Minnesota. “Ain’t No Friend of Mine” sounds like nothing so much as it sounds like this kickin’ cover of “Bulls on Parade” that he used to do when Rob Skoro was still playing with him. “The Field” wouldn’t be out of place in the Birds Flying Away demos. And all of the drumming and half the production values sound just like the first album, Mason in the basement of the Lake Street house by himself with an eight track recorder, also known as what I refer to as “the crappy drumming years”. (No offense, whoever drummed on this album, but I listened to “Pittsburgh” and thought, Mason? Are you drumming for yourself again? Go call Chris, honey, he’ll tell you sit down and let him take care of it.) This album isn’t going to be for everybody; it’s strange and jarring and sort of brutally sad, but it’s lovely, too.
I’d still kill for a clean studio version of “Better Than That”, though, you have no fucking idea.
[Mason Jennings — “Bulls on Parade”] 5MB, .mp3. Live, 12/07/2002, Mpls, MN. Probably at the Orpheum or First Ave, but this came to me without a venue on it. Rage Against the Machine cover.
Mason is touring this fall in support of the new disc (although he didn’t have the good grace to give me a North Carolina tour date) and you can pre-order the album here (or buy it from iTunes right now!).
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