The Coal Porters – Western Electric (2000/2022)

Posted by Green on June 11, 2022as

320 | FLAC

“The legacy of Gram Parsons has threaded through the career of Sid Griffin, whether in his bands Long Ryders or Coal Porters or his biography of the afore-mentioned. Nurtured in the music of the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Band or the Byrds, Griffin subscribes to the genre described by the late Gram Parsons as ‘Cosmic American Music’, or the creation of moving works of art. This album, three years in the making, is as progressive as anything reviewed in these pages for many a month. Call it a blend of psychedelic rock and country music, where pedal steel blends with samples, or banjo sits up against trip hop. Griffin described it as wanting to make a record ‘as if Portishead were recording an album of Wilco songs’. But, portray it how you will, what you have in the end is a progressive album, with sublime moments, and often pushing those boundaries.

‘Emily in Ginger’ is a dreamy seven-minute trip down a flowing rhythm river, and, like the following track ’10-4′, combines the psychedelia of earliest Floyd with a Byrds ambience. ‘When I’m out Walking with You’ is indie meets country, a more poppy hook over jangling guitar, supported by ever-present if unobtrusive pedal steel and piano. Samples permeate ‘The Power of Glory’ , weaving in and out of a tapestry of wordless vocal harmony and layered guitars. From the more experimental to the infectious rhythm of ‘Faithless Disciple’, inspirational harmonies over delicate, swirling acoustic and steel guitars, or the slower, sultry seven-minute opus ‘Whirlwind’. ‘Love you Down’ relies on its shimmering vocal harmonies and the mellow ‘Carousel Days’ shifts from verse to chorus are delightfully unexpected and uplifting. The Byrds legacy is sealed with a Robyn Hitchcock-sung previously unreleased Gene Clark song ‘Straight from the Heart’, which brings the album to a satisfying close, but equally to the desire to repeat the listening experience and find other aural treasures within. No wonder Mojo had this as an Alt-Country album of the month and MusicExpress (Germany) had it in the top ten albums of 2000. ”

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