From Echoes & Dust
Mark Lanegan – Houston (Publishing Demos 2002)
Released on August 21, 2015 via Ipecac Recordings
Familiar to fans already is ‘Grey Goes Black’
which appears on the Has God Seen My Shadow? Anthology (along with the
bright ‘Halcyon Daze’), the title of which was retained for
future use a full decade later. ‘Two Horses’’ guitar
part will be instantly recognisable from both ‘Mirrored’ (a
Bubblegum b-side and still a live favourite) and ‘Deep Black Vanishing
Train’ (from Blues Funeral) and is all the more welcome for it.
The most obvious and interesting point of reference come with ‘When
It’s In You’ (Methamphetamine Blues), the chorus of which
is the strongest indication of a mind well at work towards what was to
Mark Lanegan: Houston
By 2002, Mark Lanegan was already five albums deep into
a solo discography that had uprooted the former Screaming Tree from his
grungy groundwater into more rustic, earthier realms. But that year would
mark a significant turning point in his career. You can hear it in the
jarring contrast between 2001’s solemn, sepia-toned Field Songs
and 2003’s scabrous Here Comes That Weird Chill, where Lanegan's
brooding balladry gave way to clanging industrial funk, lecherous electric-guitar
grinds, and CB-radio squawks. There are a couple of ways to account for
the dramatic shift. It’s possible that, with the Screaming Trees
officially on ice as of 2000, Lanegan no longer felt the need to present
his solo work as the sobering counterpoint to his main band’s amped-up
overdrive. Or maybe Weird Chill (and its 2004 counterpart Bubblegum) bore
the corrupting influence of becoming an official member of Queens of the
Stone Age for 2002’s colossal Songs for the Deaf (a move that would
spur Lanegan’s transformation into rock’s most promiscuous
Unreleased Mark Lanegan Album Set to be Released
Ipecac Recordings has announced that Mark Lanegan will release Houston (Publishing Demos 2002) on August 21st. At the time, The Screaming Trees had recently disbanded and Lanegan was in the early years of his solo offerings (at this point he had released a mere five solo albums). The songs on Houston (Publishing Demos 2002) were written, recorded, then shelved. Until now, with the release of this 12-song collection of previously unreleased demos via Ipecac Recordings, CD and 180gm vinyl available on August 21st.
Mark Lanegan discussed his creative process with his collaborator Mike Johnson on his early albums in an October 2014 interview with Alternative Nation.
“When I first started, I wrote The Winding Sheet,
and I didn’t know how to play guitar, but I had an offer to make
a record, so I made up singing parts. I was working in a warehouse, and
at the end of the day I would come up with a vocal melody, and I would
go home. I had a guitar chord book, and I would find the chords that went
underneath the vocal melody, so I was really doing it backwards. Then
when I had those songs, Mike [Johnson, collaborator] came in, and wrote
intros, and middle sections, and outros, and all of the other stuff that
you need in a song (laughs) besides the singing part. Then of course later,
Mike would often right entire songs musically, and I would write the words
and singing, that happened a lot also. He’s one of my all time favorite
musicians. I made a covers record a couple years ago, and he came over
from France where he lives now, and played on it with me, and it was a
Mark Lanegan – Houston (Publishing Demos 2002)
By 2002, Mark Lanegan, singer of ‘90s grunge band Screaming Trees and a proponent of the Seattle grunge scene, had released five solo studio albums that showed an earthier tone of the gravely-voiced punk rocker. Since then, Lanegan has further developed his solo discography, the last of which was Phantom Radio, a post-punk infused experimental rock album, showing the versatility and vision of the unique artist. Houston (Publishing Demos 2002), released August 21 through Ipecac Recordings, is a glimpse into Lanegan’s past solo career.
Houston (Publishing Demos 2002), as the name suggests, is a collection of 12 tracks recorded in 2002 that Lanegan deferred, until now. This year coincides with the then-recent breakup of Screaming Trees, a transitory period for the singer, and his metamorphosis can be seen through his releases. The recordings of Houston were preceded by Field Songs (2001), the last of his more traditional folk-blues albums, and followed by Here Comes That Weird Chill (2003), an electrified grunge-funk album that is otherworldly compared to those before it. Though it resembles the folk style of Field Songs, Houston isn’t so much a bridge between the 2001 and 2003 albums as it is a turning point into Lanegan’s later material.
Over a decade after the songs have been recorded, it’s difficult to enter the contextual mindset of the moment in history. The tracks blend many of Lanegan’s influences ranging from folk to psychedelia, making it hard to pinpoint the stylistic origin in his discography, as it could have been released at any phase in his career. It doesn’t help that a few of the tracks were featured on the soundtrack of Cook County, a 2009 drama following Texan meth addicts, yet the songs fit the bill perfectly.
Houston (Publishing Demos 2002) opens with a strummed acoustic guitar in “No Cross To Carry,” a dark folk tune that introduces the raspy baritone of Mark Lanegan. Dedicated fans will recognize tracks such as “Grey Goes Black,” featured on the Has God Seen My Shadow? (2014) set. “When It’s In You,” an unhinged mix of folk and psychedelia complete with a wailing guitar solo, is an earlier version of “Methamphetamine Blues” off Bubblegum (2004). “The Primitives” is an interesting mix of darker blues vocals and post-punk guitar strumming ornamented by ominous tones, however, like a few other tracks on the album, it seems to end just as it’s getting started.
Houston seems to be pieced together from parts synthesized in Lanegan’s past, yet the components are exquisitely crafted. The album is dark and intriguing, perpetuated by Lanegan’s deep, rusty vocals and a folk guitar. The transitional nature of the album makes it fit anywhere and nowhere in his past career, making it a titillating installment for past and future Mark Lanegan fans.
From Renowned for Sound
ALBUM REVIEW: MARK LANEGAN – HOUSTON (PUBLISHING DEMOS
The tracks that have been collected to create this throwback album are full of sorrow and ultimately painful emotion. True to his singer-songwriter label they’re definitely bluesy rock and full of soul. Mark Lanegan has a voice that is incredibly raw and full of husky and raspy tones that compliment the simple nature of these songs. The entire vibe of the album is of a simpler time, the lyrics might be a bit heavy but musically its full of old school rhythms and beats that take you back to the days of vinyl records and heavy rock. Tracks like “When It’s In You (Methamphetamine Blues)”, “I’ll Go Where You Send Me” and, “A Suite For Dying Love” are a fine example of the nature of this album. They’re full of soul and lyrics that leave you thinking, these tracks are just fine examples of the art that Mark Lanegan created in the earlier days of his career. While some people might argue that some of these songs sound unpolished, or maybe unfinished I think it’s the imperfections in them that make them so special. Any artist can leave songs on a symbolic shelf, but it takes a true musician to be able to bring them back after 13 years and release them as they are, take them or leave them. Each track is full of classic folk rock, you hear the simple guitar chords and you hear the vocals crooning over the lyrics. There is no fancy instrumental backing track, it’s just raw talent and that’s what makes a record like Houston (Publishing Demos 2002) ageless. - See more at: http://renownedforsound.com/index.php/album-review-mark-lanegan-houston-publishing-demos-2002/#sthash.WyvvfzjI.dpuf