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Chore of Enchantment

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Audio CD, March 7, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

Howe Gelb's revolving-door band Giant Sand started out as a gritty twang-rock project for the beer-and-barbecue set. Still steeped in desert mystery, Gelb's wise and wizardly ways have evolved over the past 15 years to the point where his songs manage to conjure up images of Neil Young, Brian Wilson, and Tom Waits comingling inside of a warm pair of speakers. The result is thaumaturgical--not quite Picasso for the blind but just as bumpy and as fun to touch as braille. Chore of Enchantment's relaxed juggling of rock, country, psychedelia, and experimentalism is chameleon-like without being forced and beautiful without even trying. The variety of sounds suggests Gelb's closest contemporaries to be Yo La Tengo, who also spent 15 years moving from a so-so debut to sonic seniority. --Jason Josephes

1. Overture
2. (Well) Dusted (For The Millennium)
3. Punishing Sun
4. X-Tra Wide
5. 1972
6. Temptation Of Egg
7. Raw
8. Wolfy
9. Shiver
10. Dirty From The Rain
11. Astonished (In Memphis)
12. No Reply
13. Satellite
14. Bottom Line Man
15. Way To End The Day
16. Shrine

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 7, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: March 7, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Thrill Jockey
  • ASIN: B00003XAA7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,155 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Beautiful and sad.
I believe anyone with a creative taste for music will find something to like about this album.
B. E Jackson
This is the best album I've heard in years.
Charlie Laycock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "unionlarry" on May 23, 2000
Format: Audio CD
"Being way too tall for any self regulation/I'd invite the devil in and his entire nation/What in tarnation?"
So asks frontman Howe Gelb in "Raw," one of the seemingly countless American Beauties he's created in the service of examing yourself, lacerating yourself and laughing at yourself whilst whistling by the old graveyard. (Helpful hint: the devil and his nation are the guests that never leave.)
By turns funky, psychedelic and folksy, "Chore of Enchantment" touches so many emotional rails over the course of its languorous sojourn that you can't quite tell what's jolting you.
Its truths are harsh, humorous, ironic and frighteningly on target, from gum drop stains revealing an absent heart on "Astonished" to a drunken binge that reconnects lost nights with fearful days on "Way to end the day." When Gelb whisper-croaks, "Reinventing the unending day/in high isolation," you feel his protagonist's buzz of happy futility.
Sure, think Tom Waits. Think Yo La Tengo. Think Lou Reed. Hell, think Leonard Cohen or Neil Young (circa "On the Beach.")if you want.
Think all of them, then throw it all away, because Giant Sand practically reinvents pop minimalism. Just let the beauty, sadness and mystery of "Chore" envelop you. (I'm not much for serendipity, but how else do you attribute the nearly coincidental arrival of "Chore of Enchantment" with the Mekon's equally forlorn but illuminating "Journey to the End of Night"?)
Gelb and his crew have endowed us with something special and something stunning -- spiritual desolation has rarely sounded so lush and so damn true to the heart.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By bruce on February 6, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I'd read the accolades for this album after coming to Giant Sand via Calexico, and had a bit of trouble actually obtaining this album. On first playing I was disappointed (often the case with good albums), but after a couple more attempts I was seduced by its abundant and diverse charms. This is perhaps one of the best "country rock/alt. country" albums ever recorded. (Giant Sand's music defies clumsy categorizations). Certainly Neil Young is evoked by songs like 'Punishing Sun' or 'Shiver'- and "Bottom Line Man" could even be a mellow, cabaret-style Lou Reed. There's a breathy Leonard Cohenesque quality in "Dusted for the Millenium" and a touch of the sly Zappa croak in "Extra Wide"- but these associations merely enhance the appreciation of great songs that stand proudly and starkly on their own merit. Howe Gelb is no shallow, derivative musician creating a pseudo identity by modelling himself on others - he is one of those rare and inspired eccentrics who posess both a skewed outlook and a warm, open heart. With superlative, restrained musicianship and a wonderful economical spaciousness about the production, this is an album to keep coming back to again and again.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rob Damm on April 14, 2000
Format: Audio CD
What is with all of these indie-legend bands making elegiac pop masterpieces this year? Must be the millenium... First Yo La Tengo with the masterful "and then nothing...", the Mekons with their stunning "Journey to the end of night"... and now, best of all Giant Sand's "Chore on enchantment"...
Can't really say enough for this record. I'm sure the handful of people who get to hear it will share my sentiments. It's a stone-cold masterwork. One of the best records in the last 20 years... blah, blah, blah... but alas, it's preaching to the choir. I couldn't even find this record in any local shop. I had to order it. How is anyone going to sell records if the stores don't even bother to carry them? Every store, the same line "yeah, that really doesn't sell so we don't carry it." How can you tell if it sells or not if you don't have it in the first place?
Sorry for that rant, but's it's just a crime that beautiful complex and challenging music like this is totally marginalized while throwaway junk-pop and rap/metal products are endlessly celebrated.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2002
Format: Audio CD
If you're like me, you're bored to tears by at least 90% of what's being played on the radio these days, regardless of station. I'm always seeking something unusual, unique, something that goes beyond the narrow boundaries of category. And Giant Sand does it with this album. I chanced upon the free downloads here on Amazon and immediately bought the CD. If you're not a country fan, don't let the "alternative country" label scare you off. I'm not even remotely a country fan but I love this CD, which blends bits and pieces of so many musical styles it's hard to pick one out over another. And yet it all sounds very cohesive. This, I believe, is the kind of result you get when the people behind the music love what they're doing and have a passion for what they do, beyond any consideration of what's "commercial" or "successful".
Songs like "Shiver" could be played alongside songs by Train on the local "Alt/Top40" station. "Wolfy" would be at home on a playlist with Cake. Which isn't to say these artists sound the same, but only demonstrates the range you can find in this hidden gem. Do yourself and your cd player a favor and get this CD.
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