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CD Review: Jenny Lewis And The Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat

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Aw brother, I’m sayin, best you heed these words. I been up since the crack a yesterdays dawn chewin the teeth out my face on account a the wonders hidden in the grooves, the magic in the melodies, the alchemy in the voices poured o’er Rabbit Fur Coat by Jenny Lewis And The Watson Twins.

I fell asleep in that record an woke up somewheres carved out the concrete ashes o’ delirium. What a narcotic that piece a work done revealed itself to be. What a blessed, divine shot a fuck-fryin splendor.

T’is a secular gospel record, y’unnerstann, t’is a fragile, glistenin tangle o’ honey-doused voices an melodies picked out streams an left for to dry o’er the wooden hearths, t’is the kinda record to share wi folks know the ravages a your soul like the smoke a their chosen brand, kinda record you’ll wish you’d never let them hear when it’s four months later an the exchanges reek o’ hurt an spite.

Kinda record you wanna believe is yours, see, an only folks who know the color your eyes turn when you weep, they’re the only ones you wanna let in.

Course it ain’t yours, not that trio a voices in “Run Devil Run”, not the Dolly Parton via Gillian Welch tragedy o’ the title track, not the country pop melodies o’ “The Charging Sky”, but it feels like it is.

Feels like Jenny Lewis knows every cranny o’ your heartache when she sings;

“An it’s a sure fire bet I’m gonna die
So I’ve taken up prayin on Sunday nights”

Or

“But you can wake up younger under the knife
And you can wake up sounder if you get analyzed
An’ I better wake up…
There but for the grace of God go I”

An backtrack a time, look at him freezing the rhyme an pullin that liquorice wheel t’wards his chest;

First time I heard Jenny Lewis it was by way o’ The Execution Of All Things, the sublime second record flung shelve-wards by Rilo Kiley, bein the band she fronts when she ain’t out there dazzlin the black out the night wi these Watson Twins.

Rilo Kiley, you’ll be aware, are responsible for three a the most precious records ever led to anyone supporting Coldplay. They defy any sorta categorization, lungin from the big ol’ rock ballads to the kinda bluegrassery a fella can find on Rabbit Fur Coat, rollin back an forth from country to pop an all the while utilizing instruments folks only recently seem to’ve realized were there all the time, hidin behind those guitars an keyboards.

Right up front, there she is, Jenny Lewis, wi those barbed, broken sentiments an that voice captures the lonely middle-ground between defiance an resignation like nobody else.

Rilo Kiley are the kinda band to get obsessed with, y’unnerstann, an so I did, wakin up to More Adventurous, fallin asleep to Take-Off’s And Landings an the aforementioned second album accompanying most every breath between.

S’what we do, us over-analytical, fairly-insufferable oh-so-sensitive types, we rally around the folks can articulate our inner wankery wi the kinda non-pretentious clarity we could never muster ourselves.

An if they can swear proper, well, all the better, sayin, all the fuckin better.

Jenny Lewis knows how to swear. Give the lass a fuck to fling an she’ll tear the tin from passin buses. The Execution Of All Things is packed to the last note wi brilliantly ragged foul-mouthery, from that breathless “It’s so fuckin beautiful” in “Spectacular Views” to the nigh-on incendiary “Sometimes when you’re on, you are really fucking on” in “A Better Son / Daughter”. Kinda swearin stole a man’s heart one foul ol’ evenin back in the Summer o’ last year, lain in a filthy dead-eyed stupor an wi those perfectly spat obscenities as the strings done forced the legs to stand.

An yet only one “fuck” to be found in Rabbit Fur Coat, arrives via a cover o’ “Handle With Care” by The Traveling Wilburys, performance assisted by M. Ward an, beautifully, by sweet, incomparable Conor Oberst.

Oh how a brain might bust under the strain of such a pairing.

An wi that the beat returns an yonder DJ wi the left fist pumpin.

Look at you there, ol’ fella’s shoutin, get the hell in an put some pants on, s’pishin down an you takin to the streets wi the willy an the arsehole at the mercy o’ the lash!

But no, see, Rabbit Fur Coat, s’the kinda record wraps itself ’round a fella like a shroud, kinda record clothes an nurtures an feeds, hear me now, a man needs no jacket when “Born Secular” or “Melt Your Heart” are around for to cover the scars.

(An he’s off scramblin for a Clash b-side might serve as a blindfold lest this horrific sight burn the retinas out his head.)

Listen to Jenny there, listen to how tenderly she coos even the most rancid o’ 4 a.m. notions;

“You’re sleeping with someone who doesn’t get you
You’re gonna hate yourself in the morning
It’s bound to melt your heart one way or the other”

Listen to how bluegrass an folk an bubblegum pop are asked for to hold hands an wait for the first chards a blue from out the pre-dawn swell. Listen to how belief an love an politics an religion an lust get wound around one another till a fella can’t tell the difference between them. Listen to those moments o’ tranquillity an calm threaten to drown out every sound from here to the balls a the ocean.

Songs that taste so pure an so fragile a fella’s scared to swallow. Songs that wake you at two in the afternoon sayin come now, the day’s all afire wi the flames o’ potential, come grab yourself a coffee an a smoke an we’ll watch the sunlight dancin in the cracks atween the pavings.

Songs that sound like fragments o’ melodies caught on some breeze tickled the doorsteps in late ’65, passin for a moment an sayin best you pay attention here, chances are that wind’s gon’ pick up again sometime soon.

Songs kiss your cheek an say s’ok now, we all scream like that sometimes, just those mirrors round about got a habit o’ swappin grimaces for smiles.

Rabbit Fur Coat, aye, feels wrong to be listenin wi the same ears hear the kinda terrors make this seem so special. Kinda record makes you wonder how many years Jenny Lewis must’ve spent learnin how to sound so young. Mean to say, that title track sounds like the sighs o’ a twelve year old sat starin at lovers cross the street from a fourth-story window, an yet only someone wi a lifetime o’ experience coulda written it, coulda performed it like this.

Near the half two in the A.M. an wi the caffeine an the nicotine an the record repeatin for the Nth time, “Run Devil Run” unfoldin above an beneath an beside me again, the smoke hung in sheets around the speakers an those transcendent voices slicin through the fog.

A perfect time an place for this music, here an now, an it’ll be perfect in the morrow just like it was perfect earlier in the eve when the roof-tiles a the estate were painted for a moment wi the purples an blues o’ twilight.

Rabbit Fur Coat, a record concernin the horrible gyrations folks endure in pursuit o’ that embrace in the rain makes the twistin worthwhile. A record about the beauty o’ religion as it appears to the secular soul watchin from the sidelines. A record about loneliness an friendship an the morphine touch of an honest moment midst a shower o’ compromises.

A record feels like snow on shoulders all blistered wi the heat o’ the naked sun.

The sound of folks terrified but standin defiant nonetheless. Record like a blanket o’er the knees a folks sat by shop-fronts wi the winter bitin the flesh off their hands. Record like a friend’s head on your shoulder when the phone refuses to ring an, to tell the truth, you hope it never does. Record like waking up in the arms a someone it stung to close your eyes beside.

Soothin an inspirin an unique. Record says pick up that guitar, take hold that pen, sample those dang ol’ beats now, an yet, oh an yet, dig how futile any such actions feel in light a those whispered refrains.

Jenny Lewis And The Watson Twins. How blessed a fella might feel for to walk under the same sky these folks are lookin t’wards.

Thanks folks.

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About The Duke

  • http://www.moviesteve.blogspot.com Steve C.

    Yeah, it’s a pretty great album. Mentioning Rilo Kiley in the same breath as Coldplay, though, seems kinda… I dunno, heretical or something.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    Steve C, that’s my point, heh. Who knew three albums of such beautiful unique glory would lead to a band openin for Coldplay, among the blandest rock bands a fella might ever encounter.

  • http://www.genericmugwump.com/ Aaron Fleming

    Another excellent piece of original vocal wordsmanship from The Duke.

    She is indeed a starlet. I’m still waiting for that song about the kid playing Mario…

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    haha with backin from Fred Savage!

    an thank you, also!

  • http://www.dorksandlosers.com Tan The Man

    Very good album…

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    Agreed, Tan.

  • http://www.moviesteve.blogspot.com Steve C.

    Of course. I’m an idiot.

    In my defense, I was rather drunk when I posted that…

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    I hesitated to mention this, not wanting to be pedantic about an otherwise keenly written review, but then I realized it’s in the title and might adversely affect web-searchers’ chances to find this fine writing.

    Anyway, to the point: near as I can tell, there is no hyphen in the title of Rabbit Fur Coat.

    Oddly enough, if there were to be a hyphen I’d expect to see it between the first two words (i.e., “Rabbit-Fur Coat“) rather than where the Duke has placed it. But I expect that’s just a difference in our national dialects of the language we both inherited from England.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    Victor, thank you for pointin this out! An yeah, most likely the hyphen business has to do with linguistic nuances. either placing works for me. rabbit-fur makes more sense, but then fur-coat is correct also. maybe rabbit-fur-coat is the only way to go about it, which is why Jenny & Co left the damn things out, by the looks a things.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    de-hyphenated. Thanks again Victor.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    Or, like the Germans, we could just jam it all together: Rabbitfurcoat.

    In any case, glad to be o’ service to ya, Duke.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Duke, finally got around to reading this. Wonderfully done. It almost doesn’t seem write to call this a review because it’s something more than that. I have a feeling you have captured the essence of the record and if you have well then I am going to have to have it but I am going to have to be careful when I get it because this record mixed with me and the wrong time will brew a cocktail of total devastation. Who am I kidding? That’ll happen whenever I get it. I don’t think there’s any protection to be found.

    The lows are so extreme that the good seems fuckin’ cheap is my favorite fuckery on the album, I think.

  • The Theory

    good review man.
    I, too, love the album. Between this and the new Neko Case (which is drop-dead amazing) it makes for a great spring!

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    DJ, thank you, you hit on what i try to do here, but very often fail spectacularly; the old “essence” thing. sometimes how a record sounds an how it feels in the gut are two totally seperate things, an some times the latter is the only way of figurin out what’s goin on, anyroad?

    Theory, thank you, i ain’t heard that Neko Case record you mention, but i’ll keep a couple ears out for it.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    I just noticed my hideous error in usage of the word “write” instead of “right.” Shocking. Someone go delete that.

    Duke, just bought the CD today. Haven’t made it all the way through yet.