Friday, July 2, 2010

Two More Things...

I'm up and about now on Day Three of my Cornerstone 2010 experience, and all set to head out the door. But there are two things I need to do first, sort of as an addendum to last night's posting.

The first is to talk a little bit more about that fantastic new Choir album, to balance off my post about their show last night. Burning Like the Midnight Sun is the Choir at the peak of their powers. Sonically, it hearkens back to their 1980s style, with lots of Chase the Kangaroo touches. It's definitely their best-sounding record in 20 years. The songs are all very good, with some of them making the leap to amazing.

At 50 minutes, it's their longest since 1995's Speckled Bird, and yet there isn't a song I would remove. It's fun - there are two songs named after band members - but serious-minded when it has to be. "The Word Inside the Word" and "Should Have Been Obvious" are a one-two punch of spiritual and political insight, and closing song "Say Goodbye to Neverland" may be my favorite melancholy Choir song ever - it's all piano, Derri Daugherty's wonderful vocals, and Marc Byrd's ethereal guitar paintings.

For all that, though, the opening salvo just can't be beat. "Midnight Sun" and the awesome "That Melancholy Ghost" combine to create the best starting-gun sprint since "Someone to Hold Onto" and "To Cover You." (For longtime fans, that's really something.) I'll have more on this on Wednesday, but I've heard this record twice now, and I love it to pieces.

The second thing I need to do is talk about Jeff Elbel. I completely forgot the most fun moment of my Cornerstone Thursday, which was Ping's set on one of the smaller side stages. Seven musicians crammed onto a tiny stage, playing a ragged set full of splendid covers, from "The Whole of the Moon" to "The Book of Love" to Chagall Guevara's massive "Violent Blue." It was an absolute blast, and the 40 or so people privileged enough to see it all had a great time. Plus, Jeff gave away a plaster cast of his teeth to one lucky audience member. You can't top that.

Okay, Cornerstone Day Three is coming up. Jonathan Jones, Eisley, Dignan, and two shows by Over the Rhine. Plus, hopefully, a few surprises. Who needs sleep?

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