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Richard Hawley - Standing at the Sky's Edge


Josh Hurst
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Do we really not have a thread for this fine, fine album? I can't believe it. I know my A&F time has been limited lately, but I didn't realize I'd been quite THAT slack at my duties...

Anyway, I know, from Facebook, that a few other folks love this guy, and are perhaps every bit as taken with this-- his "rock and roll" album, or his "psychadelic" album if you prefer-- as I am. But I just got my physical copy, imported from the UK, and I'm blown away by it all over again. This is music of incredible richness, depth, beauty, danger, dignity, and humanity-- in other words, it's quintessential Richard Hawley, even if it is in many ways a bold departure for him.

This man is on an INCREDIBLE run of music right now. This is 4 masterpieces, or damn-near-masterpieces, in a row!

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Do we really not have a thread for this fine, fine album? I can't believe it. I know my A&F time has been limited lately, but I didn't realize I'd been quite THAT slack at my duties...

Anyway, I know, from Facebook, that a few other folks love this guy, and are perhaps every bit as taken with this-- his "rock and roll" album, or his "psychadelic" album if you prefer-- as I am. But I just got my physical copy, imported from the UK, and I'm blown away by it all over again. This is music of incredible richness, depth, beauty, danger, dignity, and humanity-- in other words, it's quintessential Richard Hawley, even if it is in many ways a bold departure for him.

This man is on an INCREDIBLE run of music right now. This is 4 masterpieces, or damn-near-masterpieces, in a row!

I thought about posting a thread a few times, honest! My last few thread starts resulted in crickets chirping around these parts (even for bands people like). Poor, poor me. :)

Anyway, I still haven't heard all of the album yet. I'm really interested/excited about Hawley slight stylistic tweak. He's become one of my favorite artists in the past few years, and I'm excited to see where he goes.

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Its been about a week since I've listened to it. But I was really impressed after the handful of listens I did give it.

It is a stylistic shift for Hawley. It's a psychadelic tinged rock and roll album. Best of all, it doesn't feel like a change for change sake. In no way to I get the feeling that Hawley said to himself "I need to keep people on their toes. I'm going to try something totally different." Instead it feels like someone at the top of his craft able who wrote an album that came to him naturally.

I also like the pacing of the album. When I listen to it, I think he had the vinyl medium in mind. The first half has a much more powerful dynamic to it. In the second half, he pulls the reigns back a bit. I think it works as a whole. It gives the album a good pacing to it. I'd image works really well on vinyl. I could see myself in an A-side or B-side mood and adjusting accordingly. That is if I had a record player of course.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Has anybody heard when this might receive an official release in the States? It's been available for almost a month now in the UK, but thus far it only has import status here.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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I'm not sure about a U.S. release, Kyle. For what its worth, I bought mine from this site, and it only cost 18 bucks, including shipping and everything-- not sure if that's helpful, but it's significantly lower than what Amazon was charging for an import.

Partner in Cahoots

www.cahootsmag.com

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Has anybody heard when this might receive an official release in the States? It's been available for almost a month now in the UK, but thus far it only has import status here.

Just got an e-mail from Mute: the album will be available as a digital download on 6/12. The CD/LP will be available on 8/28. Also, this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meGJXhNFxbk

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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  • 2 weeks later...

Not to be provocative or cheap but I find this album boring. As much as I liked Richard Hawley on the previous album in a sober, essential recording manner, I can't stand this heavy one. I don't hear the beauty, it rather sounds like a nightmare to me.

I guess there are many ways of appreciating music, and I feel quite away from this one!

The only word that comes to my mind to describe it, is "indigestible" (if I ever translate it right).

Fortunately for me, it's only one of the few albums that i don't like from the big bunch of 2012 releases I purchased. There were many nice surprises and I hope further listenings will bring more interesting posts from me!

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  • 5 months later...
I just picked up this year's Richard Hawley album Standing at the Sky's Edge, and I think I'm finally a fan. One listen, and I'm in love with this sound.

Granted, it's a very different sound from his last record which won so many fans here; I'll revisit that one now and see if this album helps me appreciate that one more. That was one of those records I tried to get excited about out of respect for various opinions here, but it just never caught on.

Maybe I'm missing the big arena-filling rock sounds of Radiohead and U2. This made me realize how hungry I am for a sound that fills up my car until every window and door are vibrating. This is a big noise: fighter-jet guitars scorching the air in a big red sunset horizon of keyboards. It soars into the dreamy, veers into the abrasive, and is sometimes almost too serious-minded. But then comes "Blinded by Love," a sweet, comic gem of a song.

I'm glad I didn't publish a list yet. This is going to be on it when I do.

I hadn't really thought much about the "arena-filling rock sounds" of this album. I think you're onto something. Prior to this album there was nothing really "big" about Hawley's music. Well, that's not entirely true, I think he has a big voice. Prior to this album I don't know how well he would do at one of those mega-festivals that sprout up like weeds all summer.

Thinking of it that way, it makes what Hawley did all the more impressive here. He's slid into an entirely different vein of music and nailed it. He could teach the youngsters a couple of things.

Have you heard Coles Corner or Lady's Bridge? I could listen to those two on repeat for days.

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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  • 4 weeks later...

So, with my recent loading of Spotify, I can now pull up albums and artists discussed at A&F and give them a try. That's great. But you already knew that.

This morning I returned from breakfast, booted up and tried to remember an artist's name who'd been discussed here, and who I hadn't yet heard. Then I remembered one: Richard Hawley.

I'm listening now, and ... uh, do you guys like the sound of his latest album (I see a few references above to the stylistic change), or is the lyrical content that grabs you? I realize, of course, that our response to music isn't so easily separable into "I like the lyrics but not the instrumentation/sound/production," but I ask about the lyrics because I can't make out a single word so far. And I'm wondering if that's why I'm scratching my head about the enthusiasm for this album. Maybe if I had the CD sleeve, presumably with printed lyrics, in front of me, I'd be digging this more than I am?

Of course, in this day and age, I can probably just google to get the lyrics. But you see what I'm getting at, don't you?

Oh, wait. Mellow song just came on, and I can actually understand the words Hawley is singing! Let's go check the song title ... it's "Seek It." Provocative title.

Ya know, I think I like this song better than every song that comes before it on this CD. Coincidence?

Gosh, I'm on track 5. Maybe I, uh, rushed to judgment? I blame those three cups of coffee I had with breakfast.

EDIT: Interesting. Above there's a reference to a song called "Blinded by Love." Those are the concluding words of "Seek It." Maybe that's the same song? I don't think there's a song on the new CD called "Blinded by Love." I don't see one on Spotify.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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