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Undercard

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Vinyl, October 19, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Comprised of John Darnielle (the Mountain Goats) and Franklin Bruno (Nothing Painted Blue, the Human Hearts) The Extra Lens began as a potential home for any song John wrote that had a) more than three chords or b) a bridge. New songs for the group only happened when John figured he'd written something that Franklin might find clever or amusing, although at least one such song, remembered as "Anti-Witchcraft Song," is lost. Recorded with Brian Paulson and with Mitch Rackin, Undercard is the first Extra Lens record to arrive as a full collaboration between songwriters.
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Product Details

  • Vinyl (October 19, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Merge Records
  • ASIN: B00404MBU4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,329 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By David Ross VINE VOICE on October 21, 2010
Format: Audio CD
The duo comprising the Extra Lens, John Darnielle and Frank Bruno previously recorded together in 2002's Martial Arts Weekend as the Extra Glenns. Despite this ironic renaming it is probably best to think of Undercard as most similar to a Mountain Goats album of which Darnielle is the driving force of a sometimes solo project. While he has written over 500 songs, Darnielle has made himself surprisingly difficult to follow. I was fortunate to hear Undercard on NPRs First Listen and was quickly captivated by his highly literate folk-punk-pop lyrics and storytelling. The series of three songs starting with Adultery and ending in How I Left the Ministry moves the protagonist through an adulterous relationship and into a car crash and the Jaws of Life. The album takes its title idea of failure from the the boxing undercard as illustrated by the struggles and failures of the Cruiserweight remembering the food in prison and his current "bucket full of blood and dirty water". Similarly, the would-be film maker of Only Existing Footage concludes his lament with these words: ""Hold off the backers, put a notice in the press. Oblivion's been knocking since I gave it my address." With thoughtful and melancholic storytelling Darnielle touches on such failures as financial crisis in Rockin' Rockin' Twilight of the Gods and a failed suicide attempt in Some Other Way (...to make you love me.) Ambivalent Lanscape Z cleverly evokes the Cold War with fallout shelters and harvesters amidst the silos bearing both grain and (unstated) missiles resonating with personal angst.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Pleasantly surprised by this hidden gem. I'm a big Goats fan, but this is my first purchase from the "Extra (G)Lens". Great writers and keeps that same Dardnelle feel throughout the entire album.
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I'd just like to preface this by saying that I love JD, and the music on this album is fantastic. For those of you Mountain Goats fans, this is pretty much another awesome Mountain Goats Album with Franklin Bruno coming along for the ride. John controlls this thing from start to finish and it is GLORIOUS. However (uh oh, here comes the dark turn), I purchased this on vinyl, and it seems to be a bad pressing. On throughtout the album, but especially on "Programmed Cell Depth," there is static-y clipping on some of the louder guitar chords, which is really disappointing. Luckily, it comes with a digital download too so you can hear it the way it was meant to be heard, but I've come to expect more from Merge Records. Who knows, maybe I just got unlucky or my copy was transported/stored wrong, but what a bummer! If you're going for CD or MP3, buy this album right away, but, if you're more of a vinyl person, consider either buying directly from Merge or pick up another format.
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