20 August 2010

Chauchat - upon thousands (2008, Yer Bird)

"Upon Thousands” is not a difficult or modern album. It could have been certainly already released in the first part of the nineties. Except maybe the fact that the voice is sometimes prominent (a fact that could be understood as an early Bright Eyes similarity or as an emotional position). It's the melodies and the instruments that marks this time limit of a very attractive and engaging record that would have been a classic (or at least critically mythic) album if released then. Most of the songs on “Upon Thousands” are slighly reworked version of the ones on his record on the netlabel Sundays in Spring.

If you go through the reviews written about this album, you will come across such names as Galaxie 500, Sonic Youth, Seam, East River Pipe or My Bloody Valentine – and personally I may add a Pixies / Breeders sensitivity at times and some similarities with Small Factory or Slumberland bands for his shoegaze influences. All these names give a right idea about the kind of atmospheres developed into this record.

No doubt that I like “Upon Thousands” quite a lot. I'm an old and fervent fan of his songwriting. This is my sixth review about him and most of them have been enthusiastic and ecstatic.

My only complaint is that “Upon Thouwands” is more a band thing than a songwriting expression. I would have preferred something more centered on Tyler Whitney's interpretation and sensitivity, around his guitar work too. There is something in him that belongs to the same territory as Mark Kozelek, Mike Kinsella (Owen) or Jen Wood and here this part of him is not at the forefront and I regret this.

My favourite Chauchat album would be devastating and devasted, more slowcore, tense, slow with burst of intensity, with introspective but meaningful vocals : melancholic, moving, intimate and emotional.

Here we simply have 12 perfect indie pop rock songs where his presence is smoothed not as intense as I would have wished. The result on me is mainly a pleasant nostalgic feeling. Even it this album is often marvelous and intense, I regret that there is nothing deeply original or very mysterious here, I wish that Tyler would be exploring new grounds, experiment more, keeping only his melancholy as a fil d'Ariane.

But I think I'm cruel too because I've listened so many times to his release on Sundays in Spring that discovering the new version of the song was just an half surprise. And the original release had made such a strong impression on me.

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