I’ve always been disappointed with the album bloat that accompanied the CD era of music. Bands crammed ridiculous amounts of filler crap on CDs in an attempt to reach the 74 min maximum. Quality sacrificed on the altar of quantity. I’m of the opinion that 10 songs is a solid number. This gives the listener enough songs to get into the vibe but few enough that each song is given it’s due. Sometimes though a song can be so damn important that it deserves a little more of the spotlight, which is why 7″ records are sometimes my favorite format.
Jon Snodgrass’ new 7″, Carpet Thief, is a fantastic usage of the medium. The first track “1-2-3-4” is one of the strongest songs he’s written and that’s saying something. On an album nestled in with 9 or so other tunes it might not get the attention it deserves but here it justifies release as a track on it’s own. There is something special about this one. Written in the wake of Teenage Bottlerocket drummer Brandon Carlisle’s passing the track manages to pay tribute to the departed through melancholy memories while giving a sly smile. Snodgrass frequently uses the personal to make songs universal and this topic, this song, may be the best he has ever used this device. The details found in the lyrics are very specific to Brandon’s passing but the exploration of grief should feel familiar to anyone who has had to cope with the loss of a loved one. There tends to be an immediacy and off the cuff feel to much of what Snodgrass puts out, it’s part of the charm to his music. This song serves as a reminder that there is depth and repeated listening value tucked away just behind that “in the moment” vibe. The massive guitars and pulsing, dynamic arrangement are sonically complex in all the right ways. I don’t know if he felt this way when he wrote it but “1-2-3-4” seems like it’s going to be an important part of his catalog for a long while.
The second track is “Perfect Match” is a bit older tune with a pretty cool backstory. This track was written to accompany a vampire themed comic book for Paper + Plastick. I remember hearing it awhile back and immediately loving the opening line “You’re not waking up..”. Perfect Match has Jon on vocals with all of the instrumentation by Stephen Egerton. It’s another great tune to add to Jon’s repertoire. Makes a nice pair with “Spiderman, Wolfman” for your halloween music mixes. Just a suggestion.
As is often the case there are also demo versions of the songs included. I am a big fan of hearing the process behind songs, it let’s you peek behind the curtain a bit and sometimes yields insight to the artists intent. In this case you also get witness Snodgrass being admonished for interrupting his daughter by making too much noise writing a song. It’s a pretty cool moment, I’m glad he left it in.
Go forth and download “Carpet Thief” from the Drag the River MP3 page. And stock up on some other tunes you may have missed over there while you’re at it.