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A Cork Tale Wake

6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 26, 2007
$19.32 $2.74

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Having drawn comparisons to artist such as Jeff Tweedy, and Will Oldham, Chris has risen from the ranks of everyday singer-songwriter to a national touring favorite, spending the early part of 2007 on the road with Saturday Looks Good to Me and making his first trip to the SXSW Music Festival. Releasing three album with great success on his own in 2006, Chris was then named the 'Best Solo Artist in Michigan' by Real Detroit Weekly, and was later approached by YerBird Records to provide a track on their upcoming compilation featuring additions from the likes of Hayden, O'Death & Paleo. Chris' new record, a cork tale wake was recorded in early 2007 by Ann Arbor legend Jim Roll and features musicians from the burgeoning indie-folk scene of southeast Michigan. Haunting string arrangements surround Chris' steely voice, inimitable guitar, and introspective songwriting, leaving the listener with a want to hear more, an inqusitive ear to listen more closely, and a hunger to search out the remainder of Chris' material. This album is as comfortable in a creaking, drafty wood floored farm house as it is on a porch swing during the summer in suburban Nowheresville, USA and speaks to both places equally well.


Chris Bathgate's songs are connected to the Midwest much in the same way R.E.M.'s early work was connected to the South. Michigan and Illinois aren't just locations -- they're a haunting chill, a tidal force, a mood that hangs in his lyrics like frozen fog. In other words, this isn't just folk music -- this is Middle American Gothic. And those familiar with Bathgate's previous work will be pleased to find that this preoccupation with place (not to mention loss and heartache) hasn't been lost on his first big indie release, A Cork Tale Wake. It does feel different from his previous work, insofar as it deviates from the bluegrassy, old-timey stuff that dominated his two previous releases. He sounds focused; there's a wider array of instrumentation here (spidery E-bows, scrunchy trumpets, and haunting distortion), but this album nonetheless manages to sound more reined in than Bathgate's earlier releases. It's a sound that nods to Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot -- browbeaten Americana torn through with layers of sprawling reverb -- and the change feels right. Bathgate's songs hang beautifully in this new setting, like rustic paintings mounted in high-quality frames. Naturally, it helps that A Cork Tale Wake contains some of Bathgate's most mature songwriting to date; tracks like Every Wall You Own, The Last Wine of Winter, and The Last Parade on Ann St. (a reference to a street in Ann Arbor, MI) all stand among his finest work. A Cork Tale Wake is a somber album, but that just goes with the territory. This is the Midwest, after all; the winters are hard and many of the songs are sad. --All Music Guide

If Bathgate has mastered one thing in his young and enormously promising career, it's the art of distilling alienation into bruised-sounding beauty. --NPR (Song of the Day)

A beautiful album that will appeal to fans of Okkervil River and Wilco. This is the first i've heard of this guy, but i'm betting it won't be the last. --Performing Songwriter

1. Serpentine
2. the last parade on Ann St.
3. every wall you own
4. smiles like a fist
5. Madison House
6. Cold Fusion (snakes)
7. a Flash of light followed by
8. restless
9. the last wine of winter
10. do what's easy
11. coda (Ann St. Pt. 2)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 26, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Quite Scientific
  • ASIN: B000QTCY6S
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,072 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stargrazer on September 20, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Chris Bathgate's music frustrates attempts at categorizing. Possessed of a richly agile voice, accomplished songwriting skills which draw on deeply personal imagery (and frequently tread into the dreamlike), and unafraid to embellish his sparely intricate guitar with flugelhorns, distortion, and layers of delay, Bathgate is one of the most forward-thinking singer/songwriters on the planet right now. His songwriting and playing can be stark and harrowing, or dense and lulling, or infectiously catchy -- sometimes within the same song!

In addition to being an excellent songwriter and performer, Chris is also a considerate gentleman, an encouraging presence, and a genuine asset to the flourishing mid-Michigan music culture.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Adam D. R. Baker on May 28, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Michigan does it again. I seriously have no idea what happens there to produce songwriters & musicians of genuine quality and substance, but it happens, and happens a great deal. Let's start a short list, and roll from there: Sufjan Stevens (a given), Anathallo (Chicagoans now, but Mt. Pleasant produced 'em), Ben and Bruno (hello, Grand Rapids), Ribbons of Song, Breathe Owl Breathe, and our boy here - Chris Bathgate.
"A Cork Tale Wake" is a solid release from a man who isn't afraid to mix his folk with horns and some electric guitar crunch as necessary. I'm somewhat uncertain who to compare him to, as I don't desire to do disservice to either his music or those I might cite. However, if you take a playlist involving any of the aforementioned bands, add Crooked Fingers and Damien Jurado to it, and even add some aspects of decidedly more experimental, atmospheric acts, Chris's music would join them quite comfortably.
Specifically, there are songs on this album that floor me. I re-play "Cold Fusion (Snakes)" again and again, and there's a distorted electric guitar part on "The Last Parade on Ann St." that I swear to you reminds me inescapably of some riff from the Pixies' "Doolittle". So much so that it renders me giddy every time I listen to it.
"A Cork Tale Wake" vacillates between haunting, gorgeous, and fun. That's such a weak description, but it stands. Truthfully, it stands.
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Format: MP3 Music
Listening to Michigan-based singer/songwriter Chris Bathgate gives you the sense of an intimate space, with his use of acoustic guitar and his amazing vocals. These indie folk songs speak to a gritty sensibility and reflect the stripped down music. The spare use of piano, muted horns, strings, and other instruments complement, rather than overpower Bathgate's voice.
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