whiskey and apples

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

South San Gabriel, "The Carlton Chronicles"



Like many of the recordings we've received from the Misra label, this music has a languid, calming nature like tall grass blowing in a Kansas field. It feels like the kind of breaths one should take when trying to keep one's mellow.

I listened to this recording and loved it even before reading the strange story of its conception, which only made it more intriguing. It turns out that this is, as Johnson put it, "an album that tells a story about a cat." The players? According to the liner notes, it's "Carlton the cat, Ron the sparrow, Kittyphone the truest feline confidant and secret crush, Ramon the dog rival and pro snarler, Owner the hand that feeds, and Possum the adorable, cantankerous danger."

These songs tap into something deep as they tell what could easily be a children's story of Carlton the cat on his strange journey. In "The Dark of Garage," the cat's narrative is about the other characters, Kittyphone and Ramon, yet it includes the poetic, "Locked up in hopes of your coming home."

Track six, "Run Rookie Run" is a long, beautiful story of leaving. "Now I will lay me down," singer Will Johnson sighs, "between the rocks and the floodways that lead out of town." What follows is a dreamlike interlude that really shows what a violin and a pedal steel can do together.

"The Carlton Chronicles" is one of those rare, rewarding records that gets better with each listening. Here's one of the mp3s from their website:

South San Gabriel - The Dark of Garage

You can support South San Gabriel by visiting Misra Records, where their records are available.

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