Welcome to The Underground (or Notes from the Underground if you’re a Dostoyevsky nerd), a weekly segment in which I examine the very best in unsigned, undiscovered and underground music. It’s my goal to highlight and hopefully promote talented artists who have yet to receive the attention they deserve. If you know of (or are!) a band/artist you think should be featured on The Underground, please hit me up on Twitter @AnOrangeFellow, or alternatively The official Underground Blog.
Here’s a classic:
So, if I may make a confession; I think I have a weak spot for darker sounding music. Don’t get me wrong, I love a jaunty, optimistic tune as much as the next guy, and obviously concede that the tracks found on The Crooked Mile aren’t exactly all-purpose… But I still can’t help it! A cool, clandestine and dark sound I find so easily manages to burrow into both my heart and ear, and I think has a more apparent immediate resonance than a lot of tonally upbeat music. I must insist at this point that I am in fact not a brooding fourteen year-old.
But man, is The Crooked Mile dark. While the album is never careless enough to become depressing in any form, it’s totally lacking in anything remotely joyous. The tracks that make up The Crooked Mile give off a thick atmosphere of uncertainty, fear and mystery whilst at the same time brimming with personality and distinction. The first few second and initial lyrics of the opening track “Phantom Limb”, caught me off guard. It seemingly gave a silly introduction for a silly song, and the repeated use of “I don’t like the look of it” make it kind of unclear what the song is going for. It’s a desperate, frantic song that interrupts its pace for a goofy lyric. And that’s kind of a style on The Crooked Mile – grim songs populated by clandestine lyrics which come off as a bit funny, and for the life of me I can’t tell how intentional it is. It’s very (ahem) Lynchian, if I’m allowed to say that.
At the same time, it does always end up working, though in some cases better than others. The album is always coherent enough that nothing ever feels out of place. Rather, the moments that work to raise an eyebrow act more like interesting flares to keep your attention. It makes sensem though, because through it all, The Crooked Mile is always a totally dark album, seeping with paranoia and intrigue. Each song demands your respect and is engaging enough to earn it, and if you’re anything like me, captures your imagination in a wonderfully cool and morbid way.
Even if it doesn’t really work for you, the songs work on such a level that I feel if you start listening to the record, you’ll find it hard to stop. Haunting vocals, memorable melodies and distinct sounds are littered along The Crooked Mile‘s acoustic tracks. It truly speaks to Birdengine’s talent that he’s able to keep up such a simple, effective sound in such interesting ways throughout the album.