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Author Topic: CD Review: Grant-Lee Phillips - Nineteeneighties - 07.05.06  (Read 5068 times)
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Diner Chef

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« on: July 05, 2006, 11:07:44 am »

CD Review: Grant-Lee Phillips - Nineteeneighties
July 05, 2006
Modern Pea Pod

Despite the fact that Grant-Lee Phillips is a regularly occurring character on the new CW's Gilmore Girls, he appears to remain fairly unknown. Perhaps it's because Phillips, as Stars Hollow's town troubadour, never makes out with either Lorelai or Rory Gilmore. Perhaps it's because he has only really taken the spotlight on the show twice, once when his character challenged the authenticity of a rival troubadour in a town hall meeting, and once in season six's finale, when he ended up opening for Neil Young and inspiring Sparks and Sonic Youth, among others, to come to the town in hopes of being discovered.

Or maybe it's because Grant-Lee Phillips isn't playing music that would inspire most of the Gilmore Girls' main audience to stop and toss him a quarter. With his honey-streaked vocals and drifty, dreamlike sound, Phillips can often sound like an unassuming man's Ryan Adams. This is not to say that he is any less interesting or talented than Adams, but he lacks the drama (and occasional craziness)which has thrust Adams much more clearly into the public eye. While Phillips' latest release, Nineteeneighties, will probably not shift him further into the spotlight, this album will beg the question: why isn't Grant-Lee Phillips getting the fame he deserves?

On nineteeneighties, Phillips takes some of the best and most iconic songs of the '80s, and creates blissful cover versions which are covers in name alone. Forget the wedding band and high school garage band notoriety of the term "cover songs" - Phillips takes classics like the Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation", Nick Cave's "City of Refuge", Echo & the Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon", and the Cure's "Boys Don't Cry" and creates something new and different and natural.

If anything, Nineteeneighties proves that Grant-Lee Phillips' voice is akin to a force of nature. On tracks such as REM's "so. central rain (i'm sorry)," Phillips' voice is as aching and tender as rain slowly pulling down the red-gold leaves of October trees. Or listen to the evocative "Wave of Mutilation," where his voice becomes the wind forcing the ocean to sparkle silver and slowly pushing the green palm trees back and forth in a creaky dance. He becomes the jagged road and the ominous thunder - as well as being more Nick Cave than Nick Cave was on the original cut - on "City of Refuge".

This is the sound of a voice that can circle the group, trail up into the stars and moon, become the grey dew death of late August fog, and finally turn into the sweet yellow sunlight of spring. It may not be theatrical, but for those who are not interested in the modern, the sleek, or the novelty, Phillip's voice will be similar to finding a box of fragrant poems, postcards, and pictures explained in the slippery script of your relative from the 1930s.

Despite the fact that this album is solely composed of covers - or maybe even because of it - Nineteeneighties may very well be the best record that you haven't heard all year. Seriously, give it a chance. You won't regret it.

Reviewed by Megan Giddings


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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2006, 05:32:30 pm »

Wow!! I never knew he had a CD! I love him on GG though, whenever I see him on the guest star credits, I get really excited. Thanks for posting that, Heidi!


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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2006, 02:39:12 am »

Wow, well I'm sold, but then again I've already got a ll that he has released.  My hubby and I are big Grant Lee Buffalo (the band he plays/ed with) fans and both those and his solo releases already.  You should check them out Anya, specially if you like what you hear on the show, he has an amazing range in his voice and truly is a gifted man!!

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