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Here's to Taking It Easy

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Here's to Taking It Easy is the culmination of the past three years. A grand statement, the album we dreamed Phosphorescent would make. Just 20 seconds into the album you hear something so immediate, so purposeful, no infectious, it's clear something special is underway. This is the Phosphorescent record made for any time, any season.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 11, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: DEAD OCEANS
  • ASIN: B003E1QBSC
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,810 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By J. Gardner on May 13, 2010
Format: Audio CD
This has been characterized as country, but I think it is more in the vein of early Wilco, Whiskeytown, Jayhawks, etc., flavored with more steel guitar, but just a touch of weirdness. If you liked that, then you should like or love this. It is truly an excellent and smooth album. Definitely the best of its genre in the past five years or so. Ever since Wilco derailed (somewhere around A Ghost is Born), there hasn't been much to like. I've tried to get into Horsefeathers, but honestly, that is only for certain moods. this is awesome, roll down the window on a late summer night long drive type of music. Or in the morning, or shooting pool and drinking whiskey. That's the great thing -- it works anytime.
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Format: Audio CD
Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck is probably one of those American writers and singers who knows that in ten years time a coterie of very hip young bands will record a huge tribute to his songs, that will knock up mildly respectable sales and they will name check him as an influence. Last year Houck did something very similar by recording a strong album of Willie Nelson covers which didn't go overboard on the usual song suspects but was a joy to behold.

Thus we have the latest release from Phosphorescent aptly titled "Here's to taking it easy" a warm slice of road weary Americana with the emphasis on country (slides guitars are everywhere) rather than rock and with a couple of classic dark songs thrown in for good measure. The highlights come in the form of the bright brassy opener "Its hard to be humble when your from Alabama" where Houck opens with the well worn country observation that "Baby, all these cities, ain't they all startin' to look all the same"?. Things get darker on two outstanding alternative country ballads the first "Tell me baby have you had enough" a love song in the form of an apology with a nice guitar solo that which will not leave a dry eye in the house . "The Mermaid Parade" is the albums true highlight and is another classic cracked heart ballad where Houck narrates a failed trip to the airport and wandering around Coney Island reflecting on a broken marriage and its consequences. With luck a Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard or even Ryan Adams (when he stops mopping around the place) will pick it up and turn it into a huge country hit.
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Format: Audio CD
Phosphorescent's last album Pride, although folk centered, approximated gospel. A fellow reviewer likened the listening experience to eating chicken soup: you feel just shy of healthy and about to be healed. The instrumentation remained so minimalistic that no elements were revealed upon repeated listenings, allowing ample room for the melody to carry the listener through. On Here's To Taking It Easy, changes are apparent from the first few seconds of the album. It almost sounds like Sufjan had a hand in producing it: the production is big, songs are comparatively swarming with instruments, and melodies sometimes struggle to carve out their niche.

One of the more unexpected additions is the consistent use of lap steel. For someone who grew up in Alabama but has lived in Brooklyn for several years, it seems oddly timed that Houck would now introduce it. It suggests a Southern quality that was never quite as present on his previous albums. Perhaps he's just homesick, but in context to other new elements like piano and brass it works pretty well to keep things grounded. However, the lap steel does sometimes overly enclose songs within an inappropriate box, due to its innate genre defining ability.

Some of Matthew Houck's, the man behind Phosphorescent, story arc approximates that of John Darnielle and The Mountain Goats. Solo guy does his own thing for a while, it's deeply personal, and then decides to go for heavier production and a full band lineup. The results are also similar in that they both succeed if you can relearn how to love them (for only slightly modified reasons).
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Format: Audio CD
I just read pitchfork's top 50 albums and was shocked that this one isn't here. Unlike Pride these are 'songs'. I don't agree with
the reviewer that these songs sound anything like Wilco. No, more like a Van Morrison and Neil Young love child. Okay, maybe
these songs sound a little like Wilco, but only the Mermaid Avenue albums. Just preview the tracks. If you could place
anyone of these songs in a Hollywood movie they (he +others) could stop touring, but don't. Etc.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
Its a good album. I don't like it quite as much as Pride or even Weight of Flight, but dude, its pretty good.
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By Kay on December 19, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This album is so refreshing! I bought this and it instantly went to one of my favorite go to CD's on a long trip! The vocals are creative and different and I love the country charm of the songs! The bass player Jeff Bailey plays a perfect guitar!
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