Tom Verlaine songs and other things

[Thrill Jockey; 2006]

Styles: post-punk, post-rock, new wave
Others: Television, Thurston Moore, David Byrne

To call Tom Verlaine (and by extension Television) an iconic figure in the underground (and more recently the emerging mainstream) rock scene is almost an understatement. The scope of his influence is wide and still expanding, so an album from him following 16 years of no new material can only be called a true event. While this release is coupled with an all-instrumental offering, around, the real jewel is this release, which shows beyond the shadow of doubt that Verlaine is still a songsmith at heart. These are great moody, atmospheric songs recorded simply and cleanly so as to optimize their impact. In other words, just what lovers of his '77-'87 output should be hoping for.

Ironically, the album does open with an instrumental, albeit one better than almost any of the tracks on the all-instrumental companion album. Following this palette cleanser, one is treated to the sinister "heavenly charm," where a sparse arrangement of drums gives way to a phased-out guitar line that struts with unassailable attitude. "from her fingers" is on the upbeat pop side, and with a repeating "oh fa, fa, fa," it is easily the most catchy of the lot. But if I am to choose a favorite moment, it's "the earth is in the sky," a perfect mix of the intricately interwoven guitar lines and contemplative lyrics that hooked me on Verlaine when I first heard him. It's a wonderful example of him at the top of his game, and it's hard to see how anyone could deny that.

While not so long ago it seemed an unlikely possibility, Tom Verlaine has delivered yet another beautiful creation to us. Let's rejoice and hope that it won't be too long before he sees fit to give us some more.

1. a parade in littleton
2. heavenly charm
3. orbit
4. blue light
5. from her fingers
6. nice actress
7. a stroll
8. the earth is in the sky
9. lovebird asylum seeker
10. documentary
11. shingaling
12. all weirded out
13. the day on you
14. peace piece

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