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Mark Lanegan - Houston: Publishing Demos 2002 (2015)

Posted By: Designol
Mark Lanegan - Houston: Publishing Demos 2002 (2015)

Mark Lanegan - Houston: Publishing Demos 2002 (2015)
EAC | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 276 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 115 Mb | Scans included
Label: Ipecac Recordings | # IPC171CD | Time: 00:38:52
Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Rock, Blues-Rock

In 2002, Mark Lanegan was looking to make some changes in how he approached his music – the Screaming Trees had finally collapsed at the end of the '90s, he'd found a new fan base as a frequent guest vocalist with Queens of the Stone Age, and the spare, blues-leaning solo efforts Lanegan cut for Sub Pop were no longer side projects but the first chapters of a new career. As Lanegan was strategizing his next move, he went to Houston, Texas and in five days recorded a dozen songs with a handful of talented local musicians, including guitarist Ian Moore and longtime Willie Nelson sideman Mickey Raphael on harmonica, with Justice Records founder Randall Jamail as producer. While the sessions were meant to be demos for a stack of songs Lanegan had written for Jamail's publishing house, the finished product sounded good enough to be an album, and in 2015 Lanegan finally released the material under the title Houston: Publishing Demos 2002. The jolly irony is that while these are supposed to be demos, in many respects the performances sound more polished and "commercial" than most of Lanegan's early solo efforts, capturing a laid-back but buoyant mood that's informed by country and blues as much as rock, and Lanegan seems comfortable singing with the group, rather than simply laying his vocals over the top. The arrangements are full-bodied but leave plenty of open space, which suits the dusty overtones of Lanegan's melodies, and this music is a fine match for the phantoms and lost souls who populate Lanegan's songs (ten of which get their first public hearing on this release). Houston: Publishing Demos 2002 is by no means a lost masterpiece, but in many ways this is more satisfying and a better platform for Lanegan's talents than Bubblegum, which was his next solo effort, released in 2004.

Review by Mark Deming, Allmusic.com

Houston compiles songs Mark Lanegan recorded and then shelved during the period between 2001’s solemn Field Songs and 2003’s scabrous Here Comes That Weird Chill, but it doesn’t so much capture the metamorphosis as reinforce the abruptness of his about-face.

By 2002, Mark Lanegan was already five albums deep into a solo discography that had uprooted the former Screaming Tree from his grungy groundwater into more rustic, earthier realms. But that year would mark a significant turning point in his career. You can hear it in the jarring contrast between 2001’s solemn, sepia-toned Field Songs and 2003’s scabrous Here Comes That Weird Chill, where Lanegan's brooding balladry gave way to clanging industrial funk, lecherous electric-guitar grinds, and CB-radio squawks. There are a couple of ways to account for the dramatic shift. It’s possible that, with the Screaming Trees officially on ice as of 2000, Lanegan no longer felt the need to present his solo work as the sobering counterpoint to his main band’s amped-up overdrive. Or maybe Weird Chill (and its 2004 counterpart Bubblegum) bore the corrupting influence of becoming an official member of Queens of the Stone Age for 2002’s colossal Songs for the Deaf (a move that would spur Lanegan’s transformation into rock’s most promiscuous collaborator).

Houston compiles songs Lanegan recorded and then shelved during this transitory period, but it doesn’t so much capture the metamorphosis in action as reinforce the abruptness of his about-face. Rather than serve as a bridge between Field Songs and Weird Chill, it suggests the cul-de-sac Lanegan may have hit had he continued down the former album’s footpath into more arid terrain (as emphasized by Mekon Jon Langford’s creepy cover art). That’s not to say Houston is a retread of Field Songs. Thanks to the atmospheric accordion haze provided by Bukka Allen, the sitar accents of Ian Moore, and controlled feedback bursts of long-time collaborator/ex-Dinosaur Jr. member Mike Johnson, the album gently blurs the edges of Lanegan’s sturdy roots rock template with subtle lysergic touches, like mirage vapors rising from the desert sands. But, presumably, Houston wasn’t the bold statement Lanegan needed to deliver at a time when, post-Screaming Trees, his solo work had been promoted from sideline activity to full-time endeavor. The album’s procedural subtitle—Publishing Demos 2002—hints at the career crossroads he was facing at the time.

However, 13 years removed from that context, Houston is a means to revisit Lanegan in his natural habitat, following a decade of increasingly eclectic pursuits both within and without his own discography. Rooted in timeless musical forms—folk, blues, country rock, spaghetti-western soundtracks, eastern-infused psychedelia—Houston never feels stylistically tethered to its moment of origin; it’s the sort of album that could’ve conceivably been released at any point in Lanegan’s career. Adding to the sense of temporal disorder is the fact a handful of its songs actually first surfaced on the soundtrack to Cook County, a 2009 indie drama about meth addicts in Texas that provided a suitably despairing backdrop for "When It’s in You", an early, radically different arrangement of Weird Chill’s howling opening salvo "Methamphetamine Blues". But its wobbly-kneed, light-headed lurch bears none of the nasty, scuzz-covered choogle that powers the later version, nor does it contain the song’s now-familiar chorus line. Perhaps Lanegan only later realized that staying the course to Houston would amount to "rollin’ just to keep on rollin'".

"When It’s in You" isn’t the only scrap material here salvaged for future use; the hypnotic guitar refrain of "Two Horses" would get recycled no fewer than two times on future releases. But like last year’s judiciously curated Has God Seen My Shadow? box set (which showcased two of these songs), Houston ultimately serves to illuminate a more sanguine side to Lanegan that’s often obscured by the imposing, wraithlike persona he’s projected in his later work. Even at his most dejected, there’s a perceptible smirk forming at the edges of his grimace; on the lilting acoustic serenade "Nothing Much to Mention", he surveys the wreckage of a doomed relationship at a wedding reception gone wrong, but is still game to take advantage of the open bar ("pack up that crystal chandelier/ but leave some pink champagne on ice"). And on Houston’s burning-embered highlight—the cantina slow dance "Halcyon Days"—Lanegan optimistically raises a toast to the good times before wryly admitting, "I’ll do my suffering tomorrow." It’s a sweet, self-deprecating moment of levity undiminished by the fact that—as the grimy, guttural Weird Chill would soon prove—Lanegan wasn’t joking.

Review by Stuart Berman, Pitchfork.com

Mark Lanegan - Houston: Publishing Demos 2002 (2015)



Tracklist:

01. No Cross To Carry (2:11)
02. Two Horses (4:17)
03. When It's In You (Methamphetamine Blues) (3:53)
04. High Life (2:20)
05. I'll Go Where You Send Me (3:13)
06. Grey Goes Black (1:51)
07. The Primitives (2:04)
08. Blind (3:50)
09. Halcyon Days (2:51)
10. Nothing Much To Mention (2:26)
11. A Suite For Dying Love (4:15)
12. Way To Tomorrow (5:41)


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Mark Lanegan / Houston: Publishing Demos 2002

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Track 1

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foobar2000 1.2 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2018-04-20 04:29:26

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Analyzed: Mark Lanegan / Houston: Publishing Demos 2002
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
DR6 -0.10 dB -6.94 dB 2:11 01-No Cross To Carry
DR7 -0.10 dB -7.89 dB 4:17 02-Two Horses
DR6 -0.10 dB -6.96 dB 3:53 03-When It's In You (Methamphetamine Blues)
DR8 -0.10 dB -9.49 dB 2:20 04-High Life
DR6 -0.10 dB -6.96 dB 3:13 05-I'll Go Where You Send Me
DR9 0.00 dB -12.05 dB 1:51 06-Grey Goes Black
DR7 -0.10 dB -8.38 dB 2:04 07-The Primitives
DR7 -0.10 dB -8.39 dB 3:50 08-Blind
DR7 -0.10 dB -9.49 dB 2:51 09-Halcyon Days
DR7 -0.10 dB -8.59 dB 2:26 10-Nothing Much To Mention
DR5 -0.10 dB -7.20 dB 4:15 11-A Suite For Dying Love
DR7 -0.10 dB -8.15 dB 5:41 12-Way To Tomorrow
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Number of tracks: 12
Official DR value: DR7

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 750 kbps
Codec: FLAC
================================================================================

Mark Lanegan - Houston: Publishing Demos 2002 (2015)

Mark Lanegan - Houston: Publishing Demos 2002 (2015)