Posted by: ben | October 12, 2009

music monday: piney gir’s ‘the yearling’


As Ben no longer has regular iPod access, he’s making do with one ‘big’ album a week, posting summary reviews every Monday. This coincides nicely with the #musicmonday meme on Twitter. How serendipitous!

Ben: Still in a bit of an ‘alt-country’ mood after last weeks’ Hungry Bird, I kept off the beaten track this week and listened to Piney Gir’s latest release, The Yearling. You’d be forgiven for saying ‘Piney who?‘ – she’s not the most well-known of artists and save for a single mid-afternoon festival slot I’ve not seen or read much about her either. A chance encounter with a cheap copy of her new album combined with my rather pedestrian listening of late (did I really need to buy three Beatles re-releases?) meant that I jumped all over the skirt-swishing, violiny Ms Gir (aka Angela Penhaligon).

Clever move or not?

Weeeeeell, not too sure. It’s an odd one, certainly.

At times it is the most glorious Magnetic Fields they never made. Say I’m Sorry sounds a lot like a brilliant reimagining of very early Magnetic Fields songs like Love is Lighter than Air which is no bad thing in my book – a few drum machines, some twinkly guitars and some great vocals. Like other Magnetic Fields tracks, Piney Gir’s not afraid of a little quirkiness – Blixa Bargeld’s Bicycle, a song about someone moving to Shanghai, is the one track that indicates that.

I don’t think the Magnetic Fields influence is deliberate though – in fact it’s quite possible that Piney Gir has never heard of Mr Merritt and co. Their big similarity is the cheap production costs – The Yearling is a collection of sixteen tracks that, unlike Hungry Bird, seem to have been recorded very quickly and very cheaply. It’s got a raw energy about it and has no coherant musical or lyrical theme which makes for some nice variety. It’s hard to imagine another artist putting Blixa Bargeld’s Bicycle on an album with the swaying, Suzanne Vega-esque Oleanna.

It’s cheapness is also the album’s big downfall. With a limited budget this album all too often goes for distracting and unnecessary quirky ploys. It betrays a lack of confidence in the songs – a great shame because shining underneath are some great songs and, potentially, a great album. Stuffing a release with sixteen tracks and putting drummed Tupperware noises over the top shows a lack of an experienced producer. It’s so uneven – it just needs a sterner hand and someone to tell Ms Penhaligon to tell her that she’s good.

Look past the oddities and some really great tracks shine through.



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