Graham Greene managed it without too many problems. Ernest Hemingway did a pretty good job as well. In fact, they both spent their lives writing masterpieces using nothing more than the English language.
This is the same English language which leaves me, someone not fit enough to sharpen their pencils, hopelessly searching for the right words to describe Shawn David McMillen’s new album Dead Friends.
You see, my futile attempts to use that same dictionary in any coherent order to describe his music has failed horribly. Back in 2006 Wire admirably described Shawn's last album, Catfish, as "sharing the peculiar sense of temporal and topographical resonance that exemplifies the soporific, glazed music created by artists from Texas."
Well, I can’t compete with that so instead I had better start with (in the words of Pink Floyd) “just the basic facts.” Shawn is a guitarist who lives in Austin, Texas. He has worked with Friday Group, Ash Castles, Max Ochs, and the wonderfully named Starving Weirdos amongst many, many others.
He has also released work in his own name, the last being the aforementioned Catfish. Now we have another, Dead Friends which is also available on the Tompkins Square label. Resisting the temptation to quit now whilst I am, sort of, ahead, I will try and explain just what Dead Friends is.
Have you ever stayed up long after sensible o’clock to watch a film that, for whatever reason, has somehow hooked you in? Well this is the musical equivalent. It is an album that is addictive, and downright intriguing.
In some ways the film connection works rather well. The album sees Shawn vaguely exploring Paris, Texas rather then Austin, Texas before venturing deep into the corridors and dark cupboards that make up your everyday disturbed mind. Splashes of acoustics, and thinly disguised dust broom blues appear fleetingly aside haunting Japanese flavours and a myriad of sounds and effects.
The result encourages even the most dormant mind to seek out different horizons. Played via your headphones in a dark room Dead Friends will have you visiting places you had never even dreamt of before. “Walking Home (At The End Of The Night)” kicks it all off with a movie soundtrack in-waiting.