The Smiths

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“It’s time the tale were told of how you took a child and you made him old.”

So begins the eponymous debut album by seminal eighties band The Smiths. From there, the record unravels to reveal layer after layer of complex lyrical arrangements that touch on everything from distresses concerning social economics to denouncements of abject murder.

In defiance of their contemporaries, The Smiths adopted a back-to-basics approach – which their very name suggests. They dressed down in t-shirts and denim, rather than gaudy costumes or stage outfits. They utilized the standard structure of guitar/bass/drums at a time when synth was everything.

Frontman Morrissey wasn’t afraid to wordlessly vocalize or display an almost comical falsetto on tracks like “Miserable Lie.” Guitarist Johnny Marr was just coming into his own as an accomplished arranger, as if he was only then realizing the power his instrument held to impel tracks like “This Charming Man.”

In short, The Smiths were young yet eloquent, and what they lacked in experience they made up for with surprisingly erudite sentiments.

Take “This Charming Man”, for example, an early single penned with such ace insight that an inscrutable line like “Why pamper lifes complexity when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat” doesn’t pan out as obtuse but rather quite fetching.

The bulk of the album continues this trend of shrewd awareness for humanity’s darker recesses: “Pretty Girls Make Graves” is a sexually-androgynous ode to romantic frustration, and “Hand in Glove” continues this theme with lines like “No, it’s not like any other love. This one is different.”

The Smiths was a landmark album and a sign of great things to come. This album and the ones proceeding it would influence acts as diverse as Belle & Sebastian, Radiohead, Doves, and Suede in the years to follow.

Check back soon at Hurry Home Dark Cloud for upcoming reviews of the remainder of The Smiths catalog, including the oft-forgotten live album Rank.

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“This Charming Man” from The Smiths (1984)

“You’ve Got Everything Now” from The Smiths (1984)

Published in: on March 9, 2008 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Snowden

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Snow! A veritable rarity here in the southern United States, the recent heavy snowfall has caused a few remote areas to be inaccessible. Fortunately, I’ve a powerful shovel to render the driveway snow asunder.

Pitiful frozen water is no match for iron and brawn. To war!

But not before breakfast. . .

In the meantime, if so inclined, please enjoy two stellar snow-related songs from artists soon-to-be featured here:

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 Doves “Snowden” from Some Cities (2005)

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Mew “Snow Brigade” from Frengers (2003)

Published in: on March 8, 2008 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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