Thursday, March 30, 2006

Norfolk & Western...

Long promised but slow to develop at long last is the post on Norfolk & Western's EP A Gilded Age. Not that I thought you were waiting on pins and needles or anything but I like to keep my promises. Perhaps you heard Norfolk's last album Dusk in Cold Parlors? That record was a quiet beautifully rendered set of acoustic americana with a dusty time's passed me by feel. It fit a mood perfectly though you probably wouldn't pick it as your dance partner. Norfolk consists of the startlingly good combination of Adam Selzer and Rachel Blumberg (she drummed for the Decemberists for awhile and if that ain't indie cred what is?). His voice is steady and smooth thought relatively unremarkable, her's is pretty and fills all the gaps in his. Norfolk and Western doesn't by definition fall into the singer songwriter category but both Dusk... and A Gilde Age have the feel of projects driven by a vision that Selzer holds dear. It's a unique sound Norfolk has created: a very moden interpretation of a very antique process. At least that's how it wa, A Gilded Agte has turned many of my notions about Norfolk on their ear. While the new EP certainly bears many of the same marks as Dusk... such as Selzer's clever lyrics and some interesting instrumentation, the band is clearly sleeping with their electic guitar, amp and effects peddles. A lot of the "dust" in the band's sound has been swept away in favor of a more indie-rockin' approach to the songs. I guess I'll be totally non commital and say that this change in attitude is neither good nor bad, it just is. A Gilded Age's "Porch Destruction" is an excellent example of the way the band bends their old stylistic tendencies (viola, clavinet) towards a more modern interpretation (the distortion laden guitar that fires up the 2nd half of the song).

The songs are still first rate and there are moments (particularly "There Are No Places Left For Us" and "Minor Daughter") that reveal the band's continuing fascination with creating an atmosphere that brings to mind a turn of the century steamboat house party adrift on the Mississippi. Except they've gone and electramocuted the boat and plugged in. You can't begrudge a band some evolution and ultimately A Gilded Age works due to the strengths of Selzer's songwriting. Quite first rate.

a song from A Gilded Age due April 11th:

A Porch Destruction


Blogger layne (herman) said...

saw Norfolk & Western play in Walla Walla this past Tuesday (june 13).

good stuff!

10:04 PM  

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