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Old 03-16-2017, 03:42 AM   #1
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Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me

Mount Eerie is the singer/songwriter project of Phil Elverum that succeeded The Microphones. Last summer, his wife Geneviève died of pancreatic cancer following an outpouring of financial support from his fans. What followed was the painful recording process of A Crow Looked at Me. It's out on NPR, I have heard it, and I can say that everyone needs to hear this album. It's beautiful and there is a purity and honesty to it that is rare in any genre, even singer/songwriter. Elverum himself can describe the album far better than I can:

Quote:
"WRITTEN AND RECORDED August 31st to Dec. 6th, 2016 in the same room where Geneviève died, using mostly her instruments, her guitar, her bass, her pick, her amp, her old family accordion, writing the words on her paper, looking out the same window. Why share this much? Why open up like this? Why tell you, stranger, about these personal moments, the devastation and the hanging love? Our little family bubble was so sacred for so long. We carefully held it behind a curtain of privacy when we’d go out and do our art and music selves, too special to share, especially in our hyper-shared imbalanced times. Then we had a baby and this barrier felt even more important. (I still don’t want to tell you our daughter’s name.) Then in May 2015 they told us Geneviève had a surprise bad cancer, advanced pancreatic, and the ground opened up. What matters now? we thought. Then on July 9th 2016 she died at home and I belonged to nobody anymore. My internal moments felt like public property. The idea that I could have a self or personal preferences or songs eroded down into an absurd old idea leftover from a more self-indulgent time before I was a hospital-driver, a caregiver, a child-raiser, a griever. I am open now, and these songs poured out quickly in the fall, watching the days grey over and watching the neighbors across the alley tear down and rebuild their house. I make these songs and put them out into the world just to multiply my voice saying that I love her. I want it known. "Death Is Real" could be the name of this album. These cold mechanics of sickness and loss are real and inescapable, and can bring an alienating, detached sharpness. But it is not the thing I want to remember. A crow did look at me. There is an echo of Geneviève that still rings, a reminder of the love and infinity beneath all of this obliteration. That’s why."
Here's a link to the stream:

Stream Mount Eerie's Heartbreaking New Album, 'A Crow Looked At Me' : NPR
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Old 03-16-2017, 03:57 AM   #2
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Been listening to the singles and will be buying the album.
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:02 PM   #3
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This is an odd album. It's sincerity is unquestionable and affecting in a certain way, but the whole thing has what I can only call a cartoonish feeling to it: is he just reading his journals over some guitar lines? There's a noticeable asymmetry in the vocals and music in almost every song, almost like in that Sun Kil Moon - Jesu colab from last year but without the intentionality.
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Old 04-03-2017, 05:41 AM   #4
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This is truly a heartbreaking album. I don't think I've ever heard a sadder album than this.

It's just a strange listening experience. I can't enjoy A Crow Looked At Me but it is something worthwhile to experience.

I did enjoy Fantano's review. I agree with him on most points.
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Old 04-05-2017, 10:23 AM   #5
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Still not completely sure how I feel about this one.
At this point I reckon an absolutely brilliant ep could be distilled out of this album.
The album isn't that long but some songs still feel too samey and a song or 2, as heartfelt as they might be, I just don't think are that good.
But there are some tracks where he almost matches the sort of bleakness Will Oldham conjured up in his Palace Brothers / Palace Music days, and it is glorious.
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Old 04-06-2017, 03:37 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by iron yuppie View Post
the whole thing has what I can only call a cartoonish feeling to it
:bvs:
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Old 04-06-2017, 10:50 AM   #7
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:bvs:
That's one hell of an accusation.
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Old 05-14-2017, 08:56 AM   #8
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This is an extremely conflicting listening experience. Keen to hear others' thoughts.

Firstly, totally agree with Niels - doubt there's a sadder album to exist than this one. The other albums that could be spoken of in the same breath - Carrie & Lowell, Benji, Sprained Ankle, Closing Time, among others - don't have anything on this record.

I've really never experienced anything like it. I was in borderline tears halfway through the first track, but here's the thing-- it's not really that good, musically.

The thing hit me like a fucking sledgehammer, imagining the same sort of things he's singing about in my own situation... the hyper-specific details, the reminders. Some lyrics hit like a fucking tonne of bricks. "I now wield the power to transform a grocery store aisle into a canyon of pity and confusion and mutual aching to leave". The devastation of not being able to ask the person you love what their favourite kind of flower is, never being able to know for sure, because she can never answer your question.

But the strangest thing about this album is that, unlike any record I have ever heard in my life, the reason it's so powerful is the lyrics, and that's absolutely it. The music doesn't make any sort of mark, I'd say the heavy-ish guitar strums in Soria Moria is the only remotely memorable piece of music. It's all a wash, from track to track to track. As a singer his voice is very plain, just there, but never interesting.

My overwhelming thought is that this would have been much better as a collection poetry, or short stories.

But still, I'm sitting here half an hour after I heard it and absolutely floored. Poured over every inch of the vinyl record, which contains some extremely raw notes from Phil Elverum. In an inner sleeve that comes with it he writes the record's autobiography, and most interesting to me is that he listened to Benji in the months after his wife's death.

But the contrast with Benji couldn't be more stark. Mark Kozelek might have turned into a full-blown idiotic arsehole in the time that's passed since its release, but Benji holds up, because the songs are so beautiful, in their lyrics, his singing and the music. It doesn't have to deal with anything remotely as devastating as A Crow Looked at Me, and it doesn't destroy you the way that record does, but it's infinitely better.
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Old 05-14-2017, 08:57 AM   #9
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I'd say the best song from this album is Toothbrush/Trash. Those lyrics nearly took my breath away. (And it has a bit of life musically.)
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Old 05-14-2017, 10:57 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by cobl04 View Post
My overwhelming thought is that this would have been much better as a collection poetry, or short stories.
I agree with this 100%. The music seems to exist solely as a vehicle for him to release the thing, as that is the medium he is known for. That sounds harsh, but I could probably listen it a dozen times and still not come away from it with any musical impression.

Re: the atmosphere of the album. It is affecting in its starkness, but I wouldn't place it anywhere near Skeleton Tree or Carrie & Lowell for emotional impact, as it doesn't seem to have any broader perspective on grief. The guy is devastated, which is really the only point the album seems to want to make, whereas C&L speaks poignantly to the nature of life and death.
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Old 05-14-2017, 09:05 PM   #11
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Yeah, agreed. The lyrics are phenomenal, but both his singing and the music are completely unmemorable.
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Old 05-14-2017, 10:16 PM   #12
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Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me

I find the music lovely but ultimately incidental. It's an aching, melancholy backdrop that soundtracks human suffering and doesn't need to be more than that. Real Death doesn't require a catchy hook or a guitar solo, it's meant to be plainspoken and spare. That said, when the electric guitar does kick in on Soria Moria, it's gripping. It feels earned. Elverum's approach to dynamics, lyrical and musical, is what makes the album better than a short story collection would have been. His voice conveys misery in the manner that Elliott Smith's used to, which makes him well equipped to record an album like this one.

And sure, the album is more insular than the likes of Carrie & Lowell, but the payoff comes in the form of brilliantly realized lyrical details. The way he changes the album's "you" from his wife to his daughter on the closing track to signify the acceptance of his new responsibilities as a father? Come on.

I don't listen to this album often, but when I do, it briefly makes everything else sound inconsequential.
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Old 05-14-2017, 10:25 PM   #13
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Good input. I agree completely, for what it's worth. "Incidental" is probably the best way of putting it, and as I said in my original post the part where the heavier guitar comes in on Soria Moria is pretty thrilling. I think where I disagree with you is on his voice. You can hear the total misery and grief and loss, but his voice just isn't captivating at all, to me. On Benji, Kozelek's voice feels therapeutic at times, at others you can hear the strain, or the frustration at not being able to explain all this weird coincidences. But it speaks poignantly to the nature of life and death, as iYup says. Elverum's vocals don't convey a universality....... but then that doesn't really work as a criticism because A Crow Looked at Me is deliberately narrow and all the liner notes prove that this record was made out of necessity, and not for any other reason than for him to say "I love you", to make sure she still knows.

You can hear creaking floorboards and clicking doors at some points. It's just a very odd listening experience.

Elverum admitted it himself: he called it "barely music". It's very powerful, but it's hard to describe it as music.
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Old 08-15-2017, 10:42 AM   #14
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I listened to this album for the second time in full a few days ago. It still left me devastated. I don't think an album has ever affected me this much. Probably due to the directness of the lyrics I am able to project myself (partly of course, as I think it's impossible to really know what one goes through in such a situation without experiencing it) in his situation. Losing your wife after you've just had baby... Seriously, it doesn't get much worse than that.

I'm not exactly keen to admit it but I cried during about half of the album. With other sad albums, the more abstract lyrics make it easier to contemplate the sadness without being completely engulfed by it. Impressive piece of work.
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Old 01-17-2018, 06:42 PM   #15
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holy shit: Mount Eerie Announces New Album 'Now Only', Shares New Song

I'm seeing him next week (with Julie Byrne too) I will have to listen to Crow Looked at Me again. I only listened the once.
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