Mark Sinnis – The Undertaker In My Rearview Mirror

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music,Reviews — doktorjohn August 24, 2011 @ 12:02 am

The following review was published in the paper edition as well as the online edition of The Aquarian

Mark Sinnis – The Undertaker In My Rearview Mirror

Frontman for Cemetery & Western band Ninth House, Mark Sinnis has released a new album that contains some updated, acoustic and mellow versions of previously recorded Ninth House favorites, countrified even further with honkey tonk piano and acoustic and slide guitars. Sinnis continues expounding obsession with the many ways that the concept of death informs and shapes our viewpoints and our lives.

The title track is new, melodious narrative, partly spoken, partly sung in old-school country style, relates the morbid ruminations of someone who spends a lot of time behind the wheel and features a slide guitar that creates an eerie feeling to accompany his thoughts. Included are covers like “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and re-interpretations of other artists’ works as well as of his own previously recorded songs. A fabulous example is “Fifty Odd Hours,” which is a re-write of the great antique “Sixteen Tons,” a 50s classic by Tennessee Ernie Ford. Both “Death Song” —borrowed from the repertoire of Sinnis’ first band, the Apostates—- and the newly composed sequel, “Departed” are performed as duets featuring the exquisitely sweet voice of frequent collaborator Randi Russo who has the effect of emotionally charging Sinnis’s rich, deep vocals to previously unattained heights.

Sinnis never fails to bring up the traditional theme of the ill consequences as well as the consolations derived from booze, so the thirteenth track closes the album with “I’ll Have Another Drink of Whiskey,” a bar-room style sing-along.
Mark Sinnis has once again released an polished and highly listenable collection of new, old and re-interpreted folk rock featuring his polished dark baritone, fine arrangements, delicious melodies and thoughtful lyrics reflecting his profound love of American roots music.

Peter Murphy – Ninth

Filed under: Goth Stuff,Recorded Music,Reviews — doktorjohn August 23, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

The following is an album review that appears in the current issue of The Aquarian

Peter Murphy/ Ninth

On Nettwerk Records
By Doktor John

When the seminal Gothic rock band Bauhaus broke up in 1983, the founding members went off in different directions. Frontman Peter Murphy went solo and produced three albums, Deep, Holy Smoke and Cascade that, while more melodious, represented a continuation of the dark tradition on which the original band was founded. Numerous singles from those albums went on to become mainstays of gothic-industrial and underground clubs. But it has been sixteen years since Cascade, he has relocated to Turkey, and all he has produced musically have been the forgettable Unshattered; Dust, an incongruous probe into Near Eastern mysticism; some greatest hits collections; and a reunion album with Bauhaus. Now with Ninth, however, he has at last resurrected the richly vocal, emotionally moving style that renders his supporters delirious with enthusiasm.

The opening track, “I Spit Roses,” has the enigmatic poetry and complex, layered rhythms that characterized all of his best works. “Seesaw Sway” is one of the best cuts on the album and restores Murphy to the top tier of dark rock, utilizing his broad vocal range. All Murphy’s albums have at least one tender-hearted ballad, and on Ninth that would be “Crème de la Crème” which begins with velvety vocals and a simplified one-hand piano accompaniment but surges to a passionate, symphonic crescendo.

“Velocity Bird” is in true rock’n’roll style and Murphy’s lyrics pose a poetic riddle of the kind that only he concocts. “Uneven & Brittle” features power chord guitar riffs and menacing vocals, but contains a soft-spoken narrative in its middle. “Peace to Each” sounds like vintage Bauhaus with discordant singing over a driving rhythm.

One of the absolute gems of the album is “The Prince & Old Lady Shade” that will find its place among the best and most beloved songs he has ever sung for its mesmerizing beat, layered arrangement and virtuoso vocals.

“Memory Go” and “Never Fall Out” are fine, listenable and danceable without being standouts on their own merits. “Secret Silk Society” is the pitch-black, atonal and creepy finale in the early Bauhaus spirit that Peter Murphy carries on.

Ninth is vintage Peter Murphy and will more than satisfy his ardent fans who have been waiting for an album of this quality.

Rating: A
In a word: Consummate