Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chris Kiehne

(Originally on my other blog)

I want to tell you why you should listen to Chris Kiehne. As the one listener on with (currently) about half of his total plays, I’d say if any one person has the right to do this, it’s me.

I was first acquainted with Chris Kiehne on some backwater forum that discussed the chilling and gratuitous The Dead Will Walk, Dear by The National Lights, a weird meeting of beautiful, quiet folk and, well, the bastard love child of Buffalo Bill and John Wayne Gacy, Jr. I followed some links, ended up on megaupload, and eventually had five tracks of the as-yet-unfinished Pray For Daylight, Kiehne’s first “full” album which, after a devastating hard drive crash, was more or less abandoned.

So, knowing this, I dumped them into my iTunes, plugged in my headphones, and began listening. What I found was something entirely beautiful, clean and unassuming. I’d had a similar experience with The National Lights’ album—yet the songs he’d written for Pray For Daylight didn’t mask or belie any sort of underlying vitriol. The album seemed, almost, to be mourning itself as I listened. Chris said that if The Dead Will Walk, Dear was about killing [and then eating/raping/burying] your girlfriend, Pray For Daylight was about trying to save her.

And it is. I latched onto the music, for whatever reason, and, in keeping with my mild OCD tendencies, I just put the album on repeat and let it grow on me. I ended up sending a message to Chris on, got to talking about his album, and found out he was thinking of going back and finishing the project. I asked him for lyrics and we started talking about the whole thing—what the album was doing, what it wasn’t, what it was about, and everything else. Pray For Daylight’s lyrics were surprisingly cohesive, building a strange picture of zombies, teen romance and loss. Yeah, zombies. Don’t worry, no brains, no blood—just scattered images, invocations of dead or undead love, and loads of beautiful guitar backed up by Sonya Cotton’s breezy, otherworldly voice. Kiehne paints marriage as an invasion--literally battering down the door--and love as a sickness amid the bloodied ruins of the American Midwest. It hurts so good.

All that said, Chris finished Pray For Daylight and released it on his website for a whopping five bucks. He’s currently working on The Western Throne—a denser, fuller body of work that, from what I’ve seen, has pushed beyond the territory of Pray For Daylight’s breezy, mid-tempo folk to more dynamic, literary material, drawing heavily on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, from what I’ve heard. He’s got loftier aims this time around and a lot more to say, which manifests itself both through his matured vocal performance and the busier song arrangements that populate the album.

Dunno when The Western Throne comes out, but you can bet I’ll post it here. Also, if I get his permission, I might stick up an mp3 somewhere. As it is, here’s the gorgeous Diomedea from Pray For Daylight.

Chris, man, you gotta coat this album in venom and stick it to those pricks at Pitchfork.

No comments:

Post a Comment