Eric Margan & The Red Lions – Midnight Book (CD)

“An Ocean Blue” is the first track on “Midnight Book”, and the solid nature of the track is exactly what is needed to ensnare listeners and ensure that they will stick with the album through all its different tacks, approaches, and general twists and turns. The track itself is important due to its opening position, but even if the song ended the disc it would be interesting. “Bay of Naples” has a panoply of different actions taking place in its borders. The quiet, almost-whispered vocals hide amongst the softly-strummed guitar, while the much more voracious piano line threatens to swallow up the lower end occupied by the aforementioned pieces. Amongst these different sounds, a harmony is reached that would easily make it onto alternative and college radio stations, right alongside the Devendra Banhart and DiChristina releases.

“You Are A Ghost” has more pomp and circumstance to it than prior tracks on “Midnight Book”; the track links together 19th century musical styles with jazz and even a Voltaire (singer) type of braggadocio. It is really the instrumentation that shines the brightest during “You Are A Ghost”, even if the vocals are coy and call listeners like the mythical Siren; the bouncy instrumentation here hides a tight arrangement that will keep with listeners well after the disc is put down. “I’ll Never Know” immediately pushes the instrumentation into the laps of the listeners; while the dramatic swell of the band fades away soon after, the vocals here pull double duty in providing lyrical direction and harmony abound.

There are a number of acts that are currently creating music right now that I would call good, but I would have to downgrade them to “passable” just so I could get the proper amount of distance to the “great” that I would assess to Eric Margan & The Red Lions. “Midnight Book” should be seen as a “must-have” album, right alongside the discographies of Frank Black, Cake, and Sonic Youth. Without one hint of weakness here, the album should be taken as a singular entity, with song titles acting only as markers for individuals. Seriously, “Midnight Book” is the best album I’ve heard in 2009, and I believe that will still be the case in late December, as well.

Top Tracks: Without the Sun, Midnight Book

Rating: 9.4/10

Eric Margan & The Red Lions – Midnight Book / 2009 Self / 12 Tracks / http://www.myspace.com/theredlions

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