Reviews

Old Blood

06/28/2002 | Entertainment Today | Album Review
In my grandpa's basement there was a special shelf full of books with raised lettering on the spines, their pages edged with gilt and their illustrations made from exquisite engravings. I remember being fascinated by them, certain that these volumes, written by folks with then-unfamiliar names like Keats and Dickens and Cather, must be truly great books. After all, why else would someone have gone to so much trouble to print them up so prettily? For years thereafter, I would get excited when a title I recognized from grandpa's special bookshelf showed up on school reading lists, and they were always positively fantastic reads. Gramps's mark of approval never steered me wrong.

The closest thing we have in music nowadays to that kind of unfailingly accurate assurance of quality is Saddle Creek Records, home to the best of the current, seemingly inexhaustible crop of gifted musicians who make their home in Nebraska. Its marquee releases, by bands like Bright Eyes, Cursive and the Faint, are college-radio staples, but the Saddle Creek folks also put out, from time to time, records like Old Blood, quieter records made by loose configurations of members of those other bands. This one is headed by Lullaby for the Working Class frontman Ted Stevens under the name Mayday, and his songs are lovely, lilting pieces, gorgeously arranged and produced. The CD plays like a little indie rock sonnet sequence, and I swear, as you listen, you'll feel like you've stumbled on a slim volume of beautiful poetry there on my grandfather's shelf. Of course, just as Stevenson's a tougher read than Danielle Steele, Old Blood is a more challenging listen than the latest KROQ hit, but it's also a thousand times more rewarding, and a great introduction to the riches of Saddle Creek's roster.
Old Blood

Old Blood

CD / MP3




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