Release Date: Jun 2, 2015
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, American Underground, Electro-Acoustic
There’s a regular feature in Private Eye where readers send in quotes from celebrities, artists and media outlets that are particularly pompous, or guilty of excessive embellishment. There’s a case to be made for the majority of Carnation’s accompanying press release to be submitted to the Eye’s next edition of ‘Pseuds Corner’, which peaks with a quote from the words of its creator: 'In distinction from my other records, I think this has a sense of malign opulence. That is to say, darker and more elegant and sophisticated than my previous outings.
Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find hinges on the actions of a man called the Misfit. He dresses in black, speaks eloquently, and is kind to strangers, but this being a Southern Gothic work, he’s hiding something beneath the slow drawl. He’s a serial killer, calmly murdering the story’s central family and, when he finally does break the façade of tranquility, he goes ballistic.
It seems that Daughn Gibson is done playing cowboy, at least for the moment; the curious Western accent that Gibson adopted to drawl out his lyrics on 2013's Me Moan has disappeared, and on 2015's Carnation, the Pennsylvania-born singer has suddenly become British, delivering his tunes in a deep, moody croon that suggests an unlikely fusion of Morrissey and David Sylvian, with a dash of Bryan Ferry for personality. And while the opening track, "Bled to Death," includes a prominent steel guitar, the country accents that informed Gibson's first two albums play the smallest role on Carnation, which boasts a cool, slick production that meshes well with Gibson's New Englishman status, suggesting a laid-back, cocktail-sipping variation on new romantic-era new wave tracks, especially with its gleaming synthesizers and shimmering surfaces. Given that Gibson is also a strong songwriter, one of the most curious production decisions on Carnation is pushing his vocals relatively low in the mix, which means his often whispery tone gets lost in the keyboards and one often has to concentrate carefully to understand what he has to say.
With his thick baritone, the Pennsylvania native paints a new gallery of grim, lyrical portraits of lonely outsiders and anomalous weirdos. Where Carnation—his third LP—sidesteps its predecessors is in its production: the trippy digitalism of the more sample-driven Me Moan has been sidelined in favor of a sound that's richer and more organic, to somewhat mixed results. .
American singer-songwriter Daughn Gibson, one-time drummer for Pennsylvanian stoner band Pearls And Brass, is already two albums into a three-year-old solo career; two albums, it must be said, that garnered fulsome praise and earnest appreciation in equal measure; two albums that have fueled expectancy for Carnation, his second release on Seattle’s iconic Sub Pop label. Yet this third effort appears to be something of a sidestep; a deft swerve away from plaid-clad, alt-country trappings towards an altogether more cinematic sound. Opener Bled To Death’s echoing sample, piano and slide guitar adopt ambiance from the offset, and before long there’s the inevitable moment of revelation for Gibson newcomers: his baritone vocal is practically indistinguishable from that of The National‘s Matt Berninger, all the way from his broad, deep register down to the most subtle of inflections.
Daughn Gibson possesses one of those baritone voices along the lines of Nick Cave and the National's Matt Berninger: deep, dark and haunting, enough to make the fainthearted go weak in the knees. Unfortunately, his third LP, Carnation, finds Gibson's sultry vocals paired with a dizzying mix of electro-tinged instrumentals that render his pipes all but weightless. There are moments of new wave elegance, such as "Shatter You Through," which employs a blend of bass grooves and synth lines, with Gibson's voice as the bow that ties it all together.
Josh Martin seems more stunned by the success of Daughn Gibson than most anyone else. In 2012, Martin—the former drummer of a knotty blues-metal band and a big-rig driver to boot—released All Hell, his debut LP under a name just one fancy vowel sound removed from revered country crooner Don Gibson. All Hell arrived as an uncanny wonder, with Martin’s gorgeous and mysterious baritone presiding over an ad hoc band built of soul, country, and soundtrack samples he’d snipped from thrift-store finds.
You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up seven of the best new album releases from this week: catch up ….