Friday, September 25, 2009

noah and the whale: the first days of spring

Noah And The Whale’s new record, The First Days of Spring is rather different from their charming debut, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down. The band’s sophomore release is wonderfully mellow and genuinely heartbreaking. The First Days of Spring features some of the most moving and candid songs I have heard in a long long time. I remember thinking of how personal this album sounds during my initial listens, and then I read somewhere that much of the album is about/inspired by Charlie Fink’s breakup with former part-time member Laura Marling... oh it makes so much sense!

The opening/title track really sets the pace and tone for the rest of the album. The melodic violin and guitar notes as well as the slow and quiet thumping of the drum in the background create a minimal atmosphere. It is not until 1:20 into the song where vocal comes in—again, setting the pace that things move slowly—emotion changes gradually and it takes time to heal a heartbreak; nothing can be rushed (seriously, what a difference from opening with "2 Atoms In A Molecule"!) This song begins quite optimistically: "It’s the first day of spring/And my life is starting over again"... "But like a cut down tree, I will rise again/And I’ll be bigger and stronger than ever before." However, Fink’s voice tells a completely different story; his crackly and tender singing show a level of loneliness, desperation, and vulnerability. The next line "For I'm still here hoping that one day you may come back" confirms Fink’s weakness. Much like the opener, the majority of the album is more sad songs and heartbreaking tales. "Stranger" and "Blue Skies" are my favourite and probably the most depressing songs on the album. The latter features some of the most memorable lines in any song this year: "This is a song for anyone with a heart/This is a song for anyone who can't get out of bed/I'll do anything to be happy/Oh, cause blue skies are coming/But I know that it's hard." Even though I am quite happy at the moment, I absolutely adore these two tracks; what can I say, I am a huge sucker for sad songs! As mentioned earlier, most of the songs on The First Days of Spring are quite low-key and exceedingly minimal, except for "Love of an Orchestra", which is up-tempo and it features a choir and orchestra. It is brilliant and sounds like something from a musical!

The First Days of Spring is a beautifully crafted emotional journey; the album is flawless—the music, lyrics, Fink’s vocal, the ordering of the tracks... the album cover art—Noah And The Whale have created a masterpiece! There are already three or four songs on this album that I considered to be some of the best songs of 2009, so it is not really surprising that The First Days of Spring is, at the moment, my favourite album of the year!

Stranger [super-wicked-cool song]
Blue Skies [super-wicked-cool song]

visit Noah and the Whale's MySpace here
The First Days of Spring comes out on October 6th in North America, you can pre-order it here,
but it is out in the UK already and you can buy the regular version of the album here and the Deluxe Edition CD/DVD here

There is also a film by the same title to accompany the album and there will be exclusive screenings of it in the following cities:

17 Velvet Lounge in Washington, DC
25 Criminal Records in Atlanta, GA
26 Darkroom/Panic! in Chicago, IL
30 The Whiskey Bar in Seattle, WA

3 Crashin’ In @ Stranton Public in New York, NY
4 Burn @ The Castle in Tampa, FL
6 Cinespace in Hollywood, CA
6 Good Records in Dallas, TX
8 Bryant Lake Bow in Minneapolis, MN
8 Popscene in San Francisco, CA
9 Comet Tavern in Seattle, WA
20 Trainwreck @ Angels & Kings in New York, NY

The band will also embark on a small North American tour in October:

20 The Roxy in Los Angeles, CA
21 Casbah in San Diego, CA
22 Swedish American Hall in San Francisco, CA
24 Crocodile Café in Seattle, WA
25 Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, OR
28 Majestic Theatre in Madison, WI
29 Lake Shore Theatre in Chicago, IL
30 The Pike Room in Pontiac, MI
31 The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ONT

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