Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lonely Crowds Howl For Comet Gain

David Feck a.k.a. David Bower a.k.a. David Christian has always struck me as a poet first and a singer/songwriter/guitarist second. There's art in everything he does, and anything by Comet Gain.

Howl Of The Lonely Crowd is no exception. The album strikes all the right chords and wrong notes as Feck and his band of seven skip across a collage of underground rock and indie pop sounds. There is more good noise to be found on this one album than some bands produce in a career.

It certainly doesn't hurt that Ryan Jarmen (The Cribs) climbed aboad Feck's shooting star as one of his guests. And given Edwyn Collins (Orange Juice) produced it, it's a small wonder why there wasn't more traction. Some critics say too pretentious. Others say stagnant. Can anyone possibly be both?

The Howl Of The Lonely Crowd remains elusive for another reason.

It's one thing for a band to go largely unnoticed for a few albums, but it's all together something else when they chug along for two decades. Yet, it's not hard to figure out why. Feck said it himself.

Every album is a retaliation against the last album. When he said that, it all made sense to me. The writing, at least some of it, is written like most reviewers cover them. Always looking backwards.

I'm not saying that is good or bad, but it might explain why Comet Gain almost never feels ahead of the curve. So let's do that. Listen to Love Without Lies with before breaking into the Howl Of The Lonely Crowd. (The clip is from 2008, four years old and somehow timeless.)

It also has plenty of stuff people love from Comet Gain, assuming you've heard of them. There's the driving beat. Memorable melody. Honest vocals. Just enough distortion. And here is something new...

The Ballad Of Frankie Machine is decidedly darker, diving deeper into the underground. It's messy, haunting, and crawls under the skin. The nostalgic flavor comes from the film that inspired it, circa 1963. Feck likely picked the film because he enjoys sharing his eclectic bag of tricks.

And that is also what to expect from Howl Of The Lonely Crowd. Whether Rachel Evans or Feck are picking up vocals (mostly, it's Feck), the album is an eclectic mix that might pay homage to cult heroes and other interests. That doesn't mean you have to carry a cipher. It just makes the music more likable if you really know who inspired the song Yoona Baines. Not one of my favorites, but fitting enough.

Highlighted tracks from Howl Of The Lonely Crowd. 

The first three tracks from Howl Of The Lonely Crowd fit in easily with any Comet Gain work. The effortlessness of Clang Of The Concrete Swans, the pop sappy satire of the Weekend Dreams, and the jangly Arcade From The Warm Rain That Falls are among Feck's upbeat best.

But it's the lower tracks that keep my interest. The respectful raunchiness that pays tribute to one of the Beat Generation's best, Herbert Huncke, Pt. 2. The preceptive A Memorial For Nobody I Know with spoken verses. The heartbreak inside In A Lonely Place, along with Ballad For Frankie Machine, are all worth the listen.

The other members of the band are just as eclectic as the music: John Slade (guitar), Kay Ishikawa (bass), Woodie Taylor (drums), Anne Laure Guillain (keyboards), and Ben Phillpson (guitar). Of course, even this roster can be misleading. It was always Feck's intent to make the Comet Gain a collective. You can check in, but never leave.

Howl Of The Lonely Crowd Is Heard At 6.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

I recently read somewhere that Feck doesn't want Comet Gain to become a legendary band just because of longevity. But there is more to it than that. Comet Gain is the kind of music that rarely busts out.

It slowly gets shared around after hours, one friend to another, with somebody muttering that they can't believe they never heard of them before. At least that's the way is was for me years ago. The song was Charlie, and then the rest of the EP.

Howl Of The Lonely Crowd by Comet Gain is available from iTunes. Howl of the Lonely Crowd is also available from Amazon on CD or vinyl. You can also find both at Barnes & Noble.
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