Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Kris Sour – Desert Whale Ghosts

Thanks to the inimitable, charismatic Katie Elevitch for the heads-up about this

Acoustic songwriter Kris Sour had an avid cult following in New York back in the early zeros, managing to open for both Jeff Buckley and Patti Smith here before relocating to Tucson. His songs are tersely melodic and richly lyrical. His imagery is subtle yet vivid – like the best horror novelists, he takes the most mundane images and makes them menacing, especially when he gets surreal, which is a lot of the time. His nonchalant, often eerily deadpan vocals are backed by sometimes simple, sometimes lushly arranged acoustic and electric guitar with occasional trumpet and percussion. Some of the more tuneful songs here evoke the Eels; others remind of Bill Callahan back when he went by Smog.

The opening track LA Makeover is a deliciously subtle, catchy account of a New Yorker’s El Lay culture shock. The Day They Took Away The Breeze offers a haunting, minor-key, alternate view of global warming: in Sour’s version, the proliferation of windmills take all the wind, leaving the rest of the world without any. Panic ensues.

The tongue-in-cheek Yo Yoga Yoga toys with aging Gen Xers and their addictions. “I’m gonna miss me when you’re gone,” he relates matter-of-factly in the brief fragment Sunny AZ; Dry, which follows, surreal and hypnotic, makes it clear that his present location is less than optimal: “If I could take it all backwards I would.” There’s also the tongue-in-cheek tale of a novice contemplating whether or not to put the moves on a girl with a cleft lip: “I didn’t want to kiss her more than I did,” as well as New Salutation, chronicling some innovative if completely inappropriate ways to strike up a conversation; the funky, understated Apocalypse Now and the neighborhood psycho vignette Bertha. The songs give you pause, make you think and play in your mind (and with your mind) when you least expect it. Everything here is streaming at Sour’s myspace, but no doubt you’ll want to be able to enjoy the songs without being tethered to an internet connection.

August 12, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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