Artnoc Repus offers an album length of demos for downloading via open source audio. Staying Here Forever draws from an arsenal of softer compositions as well as rompin’ selections that are pulled off well despite the lack of a complete backing band.
Heres a play by play with your songcaster, liquid parallax:
Track 1. “San Diego” is a great song that opens this demo release with style. Playable in any city really. The song’s passion grows to mighty proportions, almost as powerful as Hurricane, though more introspective and abstract than the socially expressive Dylan song. Being a fan of unrefined singers, I’ve learned to tolerate unorthodox singing and even poor singing and concentrate on the essence and intention. The vocals on all tracks are from no pop singer. But if you can hang with nasally Bob Dylan and scratchy Tom Waits like me, you can probably handle the acceptable melodies of Artnoc Repus. The singer hits some peaks of soulful glory that screams real emotion, comparable in a loose sense to the lift in Brandi Carlile’s “The Story” (like the one starting 0:50, and even greater after 2:50). The flamenco edge to the solo is a complimentary embellishment that you anticipate after multiple listens. Although there are a few slight moments where it seems like the lead guitarists is about to lose it completely, he seems to pick himself back out of the blazing whirlwind before the notes fall apart. Elsewhere the guitar adds a flare of Dire Straights.
Track 2. First thought: This guy can play some steady syncopated fingerpicking while singing. Since I know the artist well and happened to be sitting in during these sessions I know this is not the case. It seriously took me a minute to realize one guy was playing and the other is calmly singing, not a one man band. Talk about a bad memory! “Sunrise” is an aptly named title for this one. It is soothing and barren and all the sudden it becomes so twinkling. Simple, yet I can grasp the imagery of the barely complicated echoes layered over the guitar that stems from the lineage of Mississippi John Hurt. For no apparent reason, the twinkly additions remind me of something that could’ve come off of Miracle Legion’s Drenched, which I oddly enough reviewed last month.
Track 3. The melody sounds familiar to me, but I can’t name a song it comes from. Upon later reflection it resembles “4th Time Around” by Bob Dylan which stems from the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.” Each song has unique aspects, but there is a strange tie that unites them with the most recent one (by Artnoc) being furthest removed in the trilogy veering into a semi-metaphorical driving song.
Track 4. This song should go on a sequel to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Western coyote calls/whistling reverb makes this song what it is. It’s not a Bing Crosby whistle, but a series of howling bursts that sound like in-and-out-of-key bending notes that emphasize the tension the lyrics provide. To be honest though, the singing isn’t as exciting as the distant whistles and could have harmonized better or focused more on word phrasing to bring more out of it. Nothing truly wrong with it, but I can sense an ounce more vocal preparation could make this a classic.
Track 5. A song for the bored, the unsatisfied, the time-stricken. I’m not directly as harsh about my city, but I feel his concerns many a day. Every place can turn into a place you want to leave. On a deeper connection, I empathize with the singer. He longs for escape, for the heaven never to be found on earth–the “Tropical Paradox.” All the while a bouncy rhythm accompanies the words and the basic song structure.
Track 6. I like the singing a whole lot, and it’s a leap compared to track #4. The song has a great arrangement and stays pretty simple and enjoyable.
Track 7. Story song: the bunch of ballads. The folk song that has a long lineage of tellers: Allen Brothers, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash (A Boy Named Sue), and even Chuck Berry. The writer of this song revealed to me that he got the inspiration from Charlie Daniels. This song isn’t going to make you drule in awe but it has some story humor for those who like stories.
Track 8. Barren solo sound reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. If you aren’t fond of that record (I, for one, don’t think it compares to his other better ones), be assured this song doesn’t sound like forced folksiness. Although I haven’t listened much to Dave Van Ronk, I can imagine Van Ronk covering this song in his unusual voice.
Track 9 & 10. These are bonus tracks and rightfully so. These don’t come off as smoothly as the others, but who can object to outtakes? “Calling You Back” is a bit disconnected and doesn’t have enough cohesive juice. The singing doesn’t vary much or make for much amusement. “Maybe If I…” isn’t as disjointed but suffers a weak vocal melody. It’s pretty sparse and comes off as a poor man’s Wilco.
In all, there are some super songs that are worth more than the download alone. In a world where there is a handful of icky uninspired songs, this is a relief to the ears. If you have a message for Artnoc Repus, you can leave a comment here and I’ll forward your comments over to him.