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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Craig Finn's Clear Heart Full Eyes: A First Listen

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Page 2 of 2

"Terrified Eyes"

Peppy country rock -- maybe he's realized not all new rock is Radiohead-imitating crap after all. Some of it is the Drive-By Truckers. I've noticed the focus on depression and paralyzed motivation that he spoke of in his excellent Pitchfork interview. But all these instrumental breaks! There's no way the people who consider this a "lyrics-first" record aren't just reiterating press copy.

"Western Pier"

This record reminds me of another mock-troubadour: Conor Oberst, who became increasingly underrated as his records got more "boring" -- that is, became musically warmer in ways that are harder to write about. This doesn't bode well for the dude's critical standing even if winking dads have more cred to throw around than boy-genius/emo-kid/New Dylans. But I'll take a pleasant, underrated solo career; I never elected him to save rock anyway.

"Honolulu Blues"

"Fell asleep in Nassau and I ended up in Maine" -- all right this is the most conventional song he's ever done. Shaggy-dog story, blues template, even fucking Craig Finn template -- he seriously mentioned "the kids," getting high and Jesus again all in the same minute, plus he's name-checked more places than an entire Mountain Goats album. Now I remember why I didn't care about this thing.

"Rented Room"

"Some things they get really hard to do/ When you're living in a rented room" -- I freelance for a living, attempted to live in Brooklyn for two years and I know this all too well. But the song itself is supposed to combat the ennui and this doesn't. The singer-songwriter world is already overcrowded with world-weary depressives. Finn's supposed to be the rare humorist. This song's taking forever.

"Balcony"

Isn't this classic-rock junkie and meta storyteller supposed to predict and defeat the old tropes? Like the cliché that indulgent '70s country-rockers' albums deflate on the boring second side? Forget that underrated crap I said earlier -- someone definitely let the air outta this thing. It's like Finn called in Don Henley himself.

"Not Much Left of Us"

I'll include in this space that during this stream I laughed out loud at an ad intermission proclaiming "Support from NPR comes from Milking Bull Records." Please don't hate me, NPR. Anyway, this song is slow.

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