Dark Was the Night and its Folk Rock Leanings

First off, Happy Easter to one and all!

I’m of the mindset that, no matter the holiday, (but especially if it is one with religious overtones), the emphasis of the day should be on giving and caring for others. While this may not be the best segue in the world, this brings me to the topic of today’s post which is the Dessner brothers (of one of my quiet and dark favorite bands, The National) new AIDS awareness compilation album entitled Dark Was the Night. Although the album came out almost two months ago, I finally spotted it on the shelves of the nearby record store last week, and am relieved to know that now others in my area can pick up the 31 songs that they have heard SOOO much about–from the requisite Pitchfork and Rolling Stones posts to itty bitty blogs like this one, word has got out that it’s a pretty solid album cover to cover.  For a fellow WordPress perspective, check out the blurb posted on the Music Mule blog:  http://musicmuleblog.wordpress.com/2009/02/06/dark-was-the-night-a-red-hot-compilation/

Almost all of the reviews I have read have made mention of the fact that, in the collective conscience, compilation albums are akin to fruitcake, appearing annually and dreaded months in advance. Yet occasionally, as is the case with Dark Was the Night, that fruitcake is really, really good, so the albums keep showing up, and despite ourselves, we keep sampling them, albeit tentatively, season after season.

But, you ask, what does this have to do with folk rock? Everything. Just check out some of the offerings on the 2-CD set…
CD #1
1. Knotty Pine by Dirty Projectors + David Byrne
2. Cello Song by The Books featuring Jose Gonzalez
3. Train Song by Feist + Ben Gibbard
4. Brackett, WI by Bon Iver
5. Deep Blue Sea by Grizzly Bear
6. So Far Around The Bend by The National
7. Tightrope by Yeasayer
8. Feeling Good by My Brightest Diamond
9. Dark Was The Night by Kronos Quartet
10. I Was Young When I Left Home by Antony + Bryce Dessner
11. Big Red Machine by Justin Vernon + Aaron Dessner
12. Sleepless by The Decemberists
13. Die by Iron & Wine
14. Service Bell by Grizzly Bear + Feist
15. You Are The Blood by Sufjan Stevens

CD #2
1. Well-Alright by Spoon
2. Lenin by Arcade Fire
3. Mimizan by Beirut
4. El Caporal by My Morning Jacket
5. Inspiration Information by Sharon Jones & The Dap-kings
6. With A Girl Like You by David Sitek
7. Blood Pt 2 by Buck 65 Remix (featuring Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti)
8. Hey, Snow White by The New Pornographers
9. Gentle Hour by Yo La Tengo
10. Another Saturday by Stuart Murdoch
11. Happiness by Riceboy Sleeps
12. Amazing Grace by Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues
13. The Giant Of Illinois by Andrew Bird
14. Lua by Conor Oberst + Gillian Welch
15. When The Road Runs Out by Blonde Redhead + Devastations
16. Love vs. Porn by Kevin Drew

Many of these tracks are the sound of modern folk rock!  Cello Song, the second track on the compilation was originally a Nick Drake song, which should tip off anyone listening of its folky roots, even if the prevailing sound of what can only be described as muted electronic rain fills the background. 8 tracks down, another lovely cover, “I Was Young When I Left Home” is the newborn offspring of a Dylan song! Skip down five more songs and you will find yourself in Sam Beam country with Iron & Wine’s melancholy but hopeful “Die”. Need I mention the appearances by Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver? Well might you ask, but what about the second cd? Same deal-SOLID. Beirut, Andrew Bird, Gillian Welch…you should be convinced by now…if not the very presence of the Dirty Delta Blues should tell you you’re in the right place. Anyway, it’s a weekend and a holiday, and a good cause–do right by it, give it a listen and buy it-it’s the kind of fruitcake that’ll have you licking the knife and looking forward to next year… http://www.darkwasthenight.com



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