Saturday, April 30, 2011

East River Pipe - We Live in Rented Rooms (2011)

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I snagged East River Pipe's lastest album We Live in Rented Rooms on a whim knowing absolutely nothing about the musician Fred Cornog aka East River Pipe or his bedroom recordings that he's been making since the 1990s. No, my purchase of his album was motivated purely by the fact that I was looking for something new and the good folks at Amazon were offering up the album for dirt cheap. So imagine my very grateful surprise when the album turned out to be good. Not just good, actually. More than that. We Live in Rented Rooms is filled with articulate lyricism, sweeping string arrangements, and a pervasive state of melancholy.

The most interesting thing about Cornog's bedroom recording is the fact that he takes real chances. He doesn't just rest on the same songwriting conventions or strengths in fact: none of his songs sound all that similar. They're either lightly sprinkled with strings, or flutes, reverb to form a hazy mystique, jangly guitar lines, or light touches of piano but never in quite the same way. He's also not afraid to let the music do it's job, often having the tracks continue long after he's done singing ("The Flames Are Coming Back", "Con Man").

I'll be honest during my initial listening of "Backroom Deals", I had a hard time seeing any of the potential that I would see realized in the remainder of the album. I actually almost shut it off but thanks heavens I powered through because the rest of the album is worthy of awe. The first two songs weren't horrible, I just felt like Cornog's complete lack of subtlety when he declares "The whole world runs on backroom deals" in "Backroom Deals" would be the theme of the album and I rarely like to get political if I can help it. However there's a sort of charm to Cornog's openness. Instead of pondering at what he really means when Cornog says something, it's actually all laid out bare for you and you can focus on the way he says it and the music he's making to get the point across. We Live in Rented Room is definitely worth a listen for anyone looking for something new but decidedly good.

You can get the album for cheap on Amazon, listen to some of his older tunes on Myspace

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