New Music: Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

I've been neglecting this blog recently, but only because early summer seems to be a downtime for music. Other than a few shows now and then there hasn't been too much to get thrilled about. There also haven't been that many great albums that have came out in the past few weeks. The reason I've been putting off writing about this album specifically is because I didn't want to say I had another new favorite album of the year so far too prematurely.

If you do a search for Spencer Krug on this blog you'll be able to tell I'm a big fan of most everything he does. He put out one of the best rock debuts in years with Wolf Parade and they followed it up with an extremely solid follow-up. His contributions to Swan Lake have been great, but overall both albums have left me wanting more, especially considering the resumes of Krug, Dan Bejar and Carey Mercer. Then there is Sunset Rubdown, which seems like it's always been his favorite musical outlet. Their second album, Shut Up I Am Dreaming, is what made me such a big fan of his and still contains some of the best music he's ever recorded, but the album definitely began to drag at the end. 2007's Random Spirit Lover was a lot tighter than Shut Up but still never really got off the ground for me. I keep waiting and waiting for Krug to release his masterpiece with Sunset Rubdown, but it never seems to happen until possibly now.

Although Dragonslayer contains all of the things you've come to expect with Krug's songwriting, it really seems like this is the culmination of everything he's done so far. The songs are all over five minutes, but they never drag. Songs like the album opener 'Silver Moons' and 'Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!' would fit in perfectly on the last albums, but where as they would have been the best tracks of Random Spirit Lover, here they might not even be in the top three on the album. Dragonslayer also contains there most radio friendly stuff they've done with tracks like 'Idiot Heart' and 'Black Swan'. In fact, the only misstep the album has is 'Paper Lace', a song that appeared first on the last Swan Lake album. This version here is better, but it still takes up the place of something completely new.

The album ends with a brilliant three song finale. 'You Go on Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)' begins with an almost reggae sounding guitar riff before exploding into one of the hardest rockers on the record. My favorite song on the record is the second to last tune, 'Nightingale/December Song'. Kevin and I were discussing this album a week or two ago and he commented that much of Krug's stuff sounds like it would fit in the times of knights and kings and such. I thought maybe Krug just writes all his songs at the Renaissance Festival. Either way, no song on the album echos that vibe to much of his music/lyrics like 'Nightingale/December Song'. The album closer is the longest song clocking in at just over ten minutes. 'Dragon's Lair' finishes off this album perfectly because throughout the ten minutes if touches almost every sound and feeling that the first seven tracks do.

It's only July and there is a lot of year yet, but this album definitely moves Phoenix, Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective all down a spot to take over my top album of the year so far. Like I said, it's not a new sound for Sunset Rubdown, it's just them taking everything they've done previously and doing it perfectly for 8 tracks. I've always thought that as great as Krug is, he never sounded confident on his albums. There would be flashes of brilliance but the rest sounded like it was over thought and picked apart. This album truly sounds like Spencer Krug is just now finally hitting his stride and showing what he's capable of. If that is the case, we could be seeing one of the new genius' of Rock N Roll.


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