Friday, May 30, 2008

Adam Marsland -- Daylight Kissing Night (Adam Marsland's Greatest Hits) (2008)

Adam Marsland -- Daylight Kissing Night (Adam Marsland’s Greatest Hits) (Karma Frog)

If you’re a long time fan of Marsland, both as the leader of Cockeyed Ghost and as a solo artist, this disc is an automatic playlist for your iPod. If you haven’t heard him before, this compilation hits a number of the highlights in his career. I’m a fan, and like any fan, I’d probably trade a few personal faves for the a few of the ones Adam chose. Hey, that’s just how it goes.

Marsland is such an enjoyable artist because both musically and lyrically he displays intelligence. He also tries to resolve impulses that sometimes seem contrary. He can rock out with punk rock intensity, yet he is a Beach Boys disciple. He has, on occasion, found a way to meld those two impulses into the same song, which is pretty thrilling.

Marsland also grasps, as well as anyone since The Pursuit Of Happiness’s Moe Berg, that a guy can be sensitive and empathetic and still have the desires that make him a pig (or horndog, if you prefer). Moreover, he has no problem singing about the struggles of an indie musician (check out the hilarious “Big Big Yeah” and “Burning Me Out (of the Record Store)” for proof of that).

In combination, and I know I’ve written this before about Marsland’s music, he is a verbose guy but has found a way to fit his many words with his tunes. There haven’t been too many artists associated with power pop who’ve provided more mental nutrition.

This comp has my two favorite Marsland songs. “The Fates Cry Foul” is a piano driven number, that matches a rollicking Elton John/Ben Folds vibe (I guess those are inevitable comparisons with piano pop) with Beatle-esque touches in the chorus. This song combines the usual clever lyrical obligations with a dazzling arrangement. Marsland and his band pull out the stops, from a brief a capella vocal arrangement at one point, to a great middle eight, and Wondermint Probyn Gregory’s trumpet adds to the majesty at the end.

But I don’t think that Marsland will ever top “Ginna Ling”, a true masterpiece. This song starts buoyantly, with Marsland detailing meeting an excited fan, and really being geeked by it. The bouncy rhythm and chugging guitars match the happiness in the lyrics.

The song takes a turn, and the tune stays the same, but the musicians tamp it down. Marsland starts narrating the lyrics, as he explains how Ginna committed suicide.

Then the music breaks down to quiet levels, and Marsland imagines what he could have done, the energy building up to double that of the way the song started, hitting that great chorus. The intensity builds up as the mixture of joy and frustration is unleashed all at once.

If you haven’t heard this song before, it’s worth the low, low price of $6.49 just for this track. If you’ve had, the photo in the jewel case tray card will really hit you.

This comp has brought some songs back into my radar. “Halo Boy”, from the second Cockeyed Ghost album Neverest, is a driving melodic rocker that just can’t be stopped. Then there’s the mid-tempo “At the Bookstore”, which sports some bluesy lead guitar licks. It is about a guy who is getting blown off by a girl, but he finds comfort hiding out amongst the books and the reading crowd. This is one of a handful of songs that were on the first Cockeyed Ghost album that Marsland, due to recording quality, decided to re-record with his new band. It’s sounds really nice.

Another one of those redone tracks is “Married Yet”, which is a hilarious tale of a guy who was spurned but his lover returns. This is another guitar fueled track, chock full of lacerating lyrics: “Even now at this late date/when I think of your decision to conjugate/your memory still has the power/to hit me full force in the shower.”

Meanwhile, “How Can You Stand It” is a nifty reflective number. If you’re feeling insignificant and down in the dumps, check this one out, as it is based on accepting that nothing is ever perfect. Great stuff.

And there’s plenty more here to get into. Now that he’s summed up his past, I’m looking forward to whatever Marsland will kick out next.

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