>Melancholy Extra

>Good news, you can put your prayer mats away, I am officially now feeling better. To celebrate here are some videos of great melancholic tracks in the spirit of yesterday’s blog:

Brick by Ben Folds (live with orchestra)

>Mangan speaking

>Right only a short one today motivated by guilt over last week’s drought. I’m back at work before too long (boo!) so the pace will slow somewhat although I really will update regularly so don’t lose faith!

Today’s review is inspired by the wonderful Fuel Friends Blog who brought this artist to my attention. I’m streaming the album from here for this review but if I like it I’ll definitely be buying it. So far I’ve heard part of one song on Heather’s blog but will now have a listen to the entire album and let you know what I think. Really excited about this!

Nice, nice, very nice by Dan Mangan

The immediate thoughts when you listening to the start of the album opener ‘Road Regrets’ is Springsteen. This has been an exciting feeling I’ve had on many occasions but so often it fails to sustain or falls into Boss parody. In fairness sometimes it really does work; Sam’s Town by the Killers and Gaslight Anthem spring to mind. However in this case the Springsteen influence though continuing through the track does not overpower it and the song structure does not mimic that of Bruce which is a positive step. I wonder if Mangan is playing a game of spot the influence as the opening bars of Robots is pure Kinks yet to Mangan’s credit he again keeps this influence as an undercurrent rather than an overpowering element. Robots has a really enjoyable Sea Shanty feel which as a fan of Picaresque really works for me. It is a real clap your hands and stomp your feet moment and it is unfortunate Mangan hadn’t received recognition earlier as this style would have been extremely well received at this summer’s festivals given the rapturous response enjoyed by Mumford & Sons. I really like how the old fashioned music marries with the lyrical content of the need to maintain feeling in our gadget ridden world. There is a striking and endearing earthy quality to Mangan’s voice which provides a depth of sound whilst maintaining clear intonation allowing every lyric to be heard. As someone who enjoys uncovering the meaning of songs this is refreshing. An affectation Managan employs is disrupting or pausing the rhythm of the melody to integrate his vocal pattern. Those who enjoy Damien Rice and/or Bon Iver will be familiar with this technique. Overused this would fast become irritating but he manages to keep it just on the right side of endearing although he does push it close on the delightful Indie Queens Are Waiting. Some of these songs have that brilliant quality of feeling like you have loved them for years and I found myself happily singing along to Sold by the end of the three minutes; when you consider this is the first time I have heard the track it really speaks volumes about Mangan’s ability to craft an instantly memorable song. Probably my favourite track of the album is Et Les Mots Croisés; an absolutely charming ode to the miserable tales of heartbreak beloved by singer/songwriters the world over and lapped up by the likes of me. The first verse says it all:

I don’t want to be a pioneer
A singer sings a sad song when he’s sad
But honey all these years I’ve been upset
I’ve slowly turned the kind of blue that keeps your jeans dry

Now I don’t need to reinvent the wheel
The singer needs to feel like he’s been had
It’s all so sad
It’s all so sad

This isn’t genre bending, era defining music; it doesn’t need to be. This is a collection of classically simple songs beautifully written. There is filler here as with most albums but considering the high expectations I placed on this album based on one track it has delivered on every level. Thanks so much to Heather Browne for the tip and please check out this album for yourself.

Seven and a half out of ten.