Here are a few reviews for the Lanegan/Garwood album With Animals, released 24 August 2018 by Heavenly Records.
Gorgeous, just gorgeous. The second team up between Lanegan and Garwood is a road trip across a dangerous terrain, seething with traps for predatory animals and serial killers.
‘You are a murderer, girl you are a murderer’, croons Lanegan on the title track, the man whose voice is husky on the lower register, sweet and exposed when higher.
These songs have life etched into them with a flick knife. ‘Upon Doing Something Wrong’ is just an acoustic guitar,and that voice.
Disarmingly sexy and just plain disturbing at times, these country noir confessionals are soaked in 3 am sadness and recalcitrance, when the booze has worn off, and time moves painfully slowly.
‘One Way Glass’ is stripped back and vulnerable, ‘To make a flowery garland of my pain… Something lonelier than death’, he sighs, vocals almost spent, to minimal keys. Sin and redemption, the poison and antidote… These classic themes are threaded throughout, yet the duo make us see them with new, if red, eyes.
The opening track ‘Save Me’, an eerie, psychedelic electronic shuffle sets out its stall early. Lanegan impels: ‘Come on people… Create your own alchemy’. In a seemingly godless world, that seems just about the best way, and all we can hope- if not pray- for.
Out on Heavenly Recordings, Aug 24. UK tour in October.
ARTIST: Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood + ALBUM: With Animals + LABEL: Heavenly Recordings + RELEASE DATE: AUG 24, 2018
Many of us have had a friend stay at our house while we were away to watch over our pets. Or we have been given the task. But, how many of us wrote an albums worth of music to gift to our friends upon their return? That’s exactly what Duke Garwood did while watching over Mark Lanegan’s five pets. Set up in Lanegan’s dining room, Garwood composed the music that Lanegan would later sing over. The sounds of Lanegan’s pets can be heard in the background of these recordings, providing the inspiration and title of the album.
Lanegan and Garwood have collaborated extensively in recent years. Garwood played on Lanegan’s Blues Funeral (2012) and last years Gargoyle, but this album is the follow-up to the duos first full-length collaboration, 2013’s Black Pudding. However, With Animals is well, a whole different animal. Where Black Pudding featured a more guitar-centric baseline, With Animals is drum machines, synths, keyboards, and sampled sounds. Nevertheless, the two albums share a similar sonic aesthetic. Garwood’s instrumentation is sparse and ambient, giving Lanegan room to fill the empty spaces with his thick and haunting vocals. Where Garwood lightly coaxed melodies from his guitar on Black Pudding, here he has approached electronic instruments in a similar manner to deliver an album that isn’t especially electronic sounding. Garwood’s soundscape is delicate, yet firm. He draws up a sketch with paper and pencil, but by the end of the song it’s a full-blown mural consisting of various shades of gray and black. The results are hard to define. Ineffable, yet completely tangible.
When the album opens with Lanegan singing “Come on now midnight children/sing a dark harmony” (“Save Me”) it is instantly gratifying as his voice looms against Garwood’s sounds. Throughout the albums 12 songs, Lanegan’s lyrics are simultaneously direct and mysterious. Which is the perfect match to the music. This combination transcends what the pair achieved on Black Pudding and solidifies them as perfectly matched collaborators. At times Lanegan’s vocals portray loneliness and despair, but Garwoods sounds give them a resonance that make them strong rather than weak. Songs like the title track, “My Shadow Life,” “Scarlett,” and “Ghost Stories” glide along a directionless wind, anchored only by Lanegan’s baritone. “Upon Doing Something Wrong” and “Desert Song” are built upon Garwood’s acoustic guitar picking, resembling something closer to one of Lanegan’s early solo albums. “L.A. Blue” is clearly a blues song, though it doesn’t sound anything like whatever you may identify with a “blues” song. “Lonesome Infidel” is almost acapella, save for Garwood’s obtuse and wandering synths and a distant whistling. The sparse instrumentation continues with “Spaceman,” featuring electric guitar and a shaker backing Lanegan’s folksy/gospel-like vocal melody.
In summary, With Animals is a deceivingly dense album. At first blush, it’s a gentle and melancholic collection of songs. But, the more you listen and absorb the layers of sounds and meditate on Lanegan’s words, the more heavy and foreboding it becomes. Like fog hanging ominously in the sky, Lanegan and Garwood have produced an album that will sneak up on you. You should only fear resisting its undeniable power.
– J. Kevin Lynch
There’s dark music, and then there’s With Animals, the new album from longtime collaborators Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood that’s pitch black, almost till the very end.
The strengths of the two men pair up perfectly: Lanegan’s gravelly baritone sounds like smoke slinking down a shadowy alley, and Garwood’s tracks are the shadowy alley, no matter what he’s using to construct them.
On the duo’s first album—2013’s Black Pudding—Garwood’s guitar flickered like a single candle in a dark room. Five years later, he has augmented his guitar with an electronic palette: drum machine, keyboards, synthesizers and sampled sounds, often looped and repeated into eternity. If nothing else, With Animals is an impressive monument to the power of sparse arrangements.
The music is only half the equation, however, and that may be shortchanging Lanegan, who is best known as the frontman of Seattle grunge pioneers Screaming Trees and his affiliation with L.A. rockers Queens of the Stone Age. The man’s voice is naturally distinctive, emotionally resonant, weathered by the years and always engrossing. On With Animals, he wields it like a skilled and patient guru, doling out bits of sullen poetry in slow motion.
“Come on now, midnight children. Sing a dark harmony,” Lanegan sings “Save Me,” the album’s intoned opening track. “Play it now, midnight people. Create your own alchemy.” Throughout With Animals, he and Garwood do just that, fusing distorted beats and smoldering guitar (“Feast to Famine”), pretty fingerpicking and ambient groans (“Upon Doing Something Wrong”), pulsing noise and folksy melodies (“Lonesome Infidel”), always registering at just barely above a whisper. The song “Ghost Stories”—with its spectral guitar licks and distant vocals—is aptly named, for sure.
Throughout With Animals, Lanegan sings of love, loss and loneliness. “My Shadow Days” is an apocalyptic love song built on a very cool four-note idea. In the title track, an unnamed woman plays the role of murderer, sorcerer, seraphim and drug. “L.A. Blue” features Lanegan asking “Won’t you miss me, baby?” over and over and over again, but seemingly never receiving a satisfactory answer, while “One-Way Glass” finds him confronting “something lonelier than death.”
There are a couple of songs here that don’t quite measure up: “Scarlett” sounds like a single idea stretched out to three minutes, and it passes by without sinking in. And “Spaceman” is a quicksilver blues tune that doesn’t really fit in to the album’s overall aesthetic. But With Animals finishes strong with “Desert Blues,” a short song that pairs Garwood and Lanegan in unadorned states: the former’s mystic acoustic guitar work and the latter singing a sort of abstracted lullaby with very little affect. It’s a lovely and lightweight ending to an otherwise brooding work by two collaborators who seem just right for each other.
Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood – With Animals (Heavenly)
My world turns into a black and white film when I listen to Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood’s latest collaboration, With Animals. I also develop an urge to smoke cigarettes in dive bars, even though I’ve only smoked for two seconds in my entire life – such is the effect of this excellently moody, sparse and spectral record.
The album’s film equivalent would be a noir set in hot, dusty American city streets, probably post apocalypse, but these unyielding musicians would be enduring. There’d be no need for dialogue, as the music alone emanates an abundance of atmosphere. And of course, it would take place entirely at night, as I suspect the duo always sound like darkness and midnight.
With Animals opens to track ‘Save Me,’ which sets the record’s lush gloomy tones. The track’s lyrics include: “Come on now, midnight children / Sing a dark harmony / Play it now, midnight people / Create your own alchemy.” Each sound is wrapped in its own space, working to deliver extra impact, whether layers of washed out guitars or hypnotic electronics. The vocals sound like a cocktail of ground gravel and whiskey, a recognisable and welcome Mark Lanegan tone, yet the overall style and pace of this album feels more consistently singular than some of his previous work. Each track is around three minutes long, with a slow, melodic rhythm.
Where their first release showcased Garwood’s guitar arrangements, their latest features tape loops, drum machines and a lo-fi eight-track recording sound that gives a distinctive appeal. In the last ten years, Duke Garwood and Mark Lanegan worked together on 2013’s Black Pudding, in addition to some of Lanegan’s solo work, with Garwood joining his band to tour Gargoyle in 2017. On this record, writing and recording was divided between studio collaboration and sharing music from Garwood’s home in London and Lanegan’s in Los Angeles.
Other tracks on With Animals include: Feast to Famine, My Shadow Life, Lonesome Infidel, Ghost Storiesand Desert Song, song names which further highlight the record’s heat-baked, gothic feel. I’m still deciding, but the title track is my current stand out. It includes lyrics: “You’re a murderer, girl, you’re a murderer / You’re a sorcerer, girl, you are a sorcerer.” This is a magic album, and I am charmed.
With Animals by Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood
Release date: August 24, 2018
Label: Heavenly Recordings
Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood might have different last names and come from two different sides of the Atlantic Ocean, but on record, tape, live, whatever, they sound like siblings. And it is not only their voices, where you could easily file With Animals, their second joint album along ‘the three tenors’, it is the like-mindedness of their musical concepts and the way they have conceived this album.
It is not just that you perceive and digest the music in a certain singular manner, on With AnimalsLanegan & Garwood seem to be doing everything in unison as if the whole thing was thought out and done by one person. And of course, when that is the case, it really works!
If the album cover conjures all things nocturnal and the title adds to the picture, that is only half of the story. The duo takes all the dark elements night brings and extracts as much beauty out of it as they possibly can.
To do that, Lanegan & Garwood went all analogue in the recording process, even when the electronic sounds present. At moments, it sounds as if they tried to see if they could make the dark sound of Sly Stone’s There’s A Riot Going’ On sound even darker. And they make it. As Garwood petit it in a pre-album interview, “The music is lo-fi, hi-fi run through stardust analogue. It’s an 8 track cassette tape machine. Studio tracks got put through the tape to wring out the digital elements of slow tools – one has to override the digital with a pure soul, and not be too clean. All effects on the record are genuinely analogue, with love. With dust.”
And that dust squeaks particularly well on tracks like ‘L.A. Blue’ which sounds as if it was recorded on Blind Lemon Jefferson’s back porch. If you listen closely to the title track, you might even hear Lanegan’s ‘home animals’ (five of them, actually), giving the album’s title the literal element along the way. On the other hand, the constant thump on ’Scarlett’ (Johansen?) gives the song a longing element that is also present throughout the album, and the distant whistling on ‘Lonesome Infidel’ just underscores both the scary and the beautiful elements the night brings along with it.
In essence, With Animals is some of the best nocturnal music to be heard recently.
Mark Lanegan’s broken, bluesy voice takes the spotlight on his second collaboration with The Duke.
7.0 / 10
Mark Lanegan is always at his best when he’s collaborating with others. As the lead singer of Screaming Trees, his vocals feature on two of the ’90s best grunge records: Sweet Oblivion and Dust. Queens of the Stone Agebrought him in for several cuts of Songs for the Deaf. Without “Hanging Tree” or “Song for the Dead”, the album veers too much into the coked-up mania of Josh Homme. Perhaps most notably is his work with Isobel Campbell, one of the early members of Belle & Sebastian. Ballad of the Broken Seas, in particular, pushes Lanegan out of his comfort zone to amazing effect: gentle, beautiful acoustics with Lanegan’s trademark rumbling croon made for one of the most unexpectedly beautiful pairings.
Misery loves company
So the announcement of Lanegan working on another collaborative record was cause for excitement. He made a record with multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood once before (Black Pudding). While the results weren’t quite as good as the above mentioned, it ranked easily in the top 50th percentile of Lanegan albums. This brings us to With Animals. It appropriately hangs in the same vein as Black Pudding. It’s dark, bluesy, and often very minimal. The minimalist touches are excellent for Lanegan’s wonderful voice that seems to only get better with time. Songs like “My Shadow Life” nearly sound a capella. Garwood’s backing music wisely lets Lanegan take the spotlight, and the automated percussion is just enough to make us wonder: what would Mark Lanegan sound like over electronic music? With Animals doesn’t answer that question. But considering the excellent results of Ballad of the Broken Seas, it’s tempting to imagine it.
Bluesy crooner rock soon to be a new sub-genre
As a coherent album, With Animals works quite well. But it’s tempting to single out a handful of songs that transcend the collection. I’d argue that some of this is Essential Listening for rock fans out there. Outside of Nick Cave and that dude from The National, how often do you hear contemporary music from a good old-fashioned bluesy crooner? The better tracks on With Animals point at some uncharted territory. Perhaps an entire subgenre of minimalist, moody, modern blues is out there for the taking. It’s not unlike how The xx pointed out the minimalist indie rock scene years ago. Unfortunately, the album bogs down in its back half. Songs like “Spaceman” and “Ghost Stories” don’t stand up to the first half, but they’re worth powering through to get to those last two songs.
“My Shadow Life”