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Alternative & Indie - Released May 16, 2011 | V2 Cooperative Music

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
€11.99

Alternative & Indie - Released May 16, 2011 | V2 Cooperative Music

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
€11.99

Folk - Released February 8, 2019 | Bella Union

In February 1968, Bobbie Gentry released her second album, entitled The Delta Sweete. Six months earlier, her hit Ode to Billie Joe had turned her into a world star at just 25 years old. Delta Sweete was a brilliant concept album that recounted the young Southern songwriter’s childhood in Mississippi through a mix of soul, country and blues. 41 years later, the group Mercury Rev have chosen to cover the record from start to finish. For this ambitious project, Jonathan Donahue's band treated themselves to an eclectic mix of incredible singers: Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, Marissa Nadler, Beth Orton, Vashti Bunyan, Laetitia Sadier from Stereolab, Margo Price, Rachel Goswell from Slowdive, Susanne Sundfør, Phoebe Bridgers, Kaela Sinclair and Carice van Houten. Building bridges between modern soul and the sound of Nashville, the album from ‘68 contained a wonderful array of impressive arrangements and the tangle of strings and brass slalomed between genres. Mercury Rev's rereading of the record is based on a rather different set of sounds. They’re still just as skilfully arranged, but the American group still very much carry their own sound. There’s a feeling of weightlessness as their slow and progressive pop alternates between sublime moods, melancholic atmospheres and grandiloquent soundscapes. Each song on Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisited is performed by a guest voice. And some of them send sparks flying. Laetitia Sadier delivers an impeccable cover of the most beautiful and sensual song on the album, Mornin' Glory, and Hope Sandoval hypnotises listeners on Big Boss Man. In a punchier register, the rising country star Margo Price puts a new spin on Sermon. Finally, we find the delicate and touching voice of the veteran folk singer Vashti Bunyan on Penduli Pendulum. Mercury Rev cheat a little (all for a good cause) by closing this beautiful record with a cover of Bobbie Gentry's most famous song, Ode to Billie Joe, even though it wasn’t from her Delta Sweete record. Lucinda Williams (the queen of Americana) performs this song with her usual rage, bringing a twist to the hushed and mysterious original. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rock - Released January 31, 2014 | Excelsior Melodies

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 2, 2015 | Bella Union

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Through the years, Mercury Rev's music has always had a sense of wonder, but it has rarely sounded as purposeful as it does on The Light in You, Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper's first album since 2008's gently introspective Snowflake Midnight. During the seven years between these albums, the duo experienced some major life changes and challenges, and emerged with some of their most powerful music yet. Though this is the first Mercury Rev album missing longtime collaborator Dave Fridmann's input, The Light in You is just as lavish as their work with him. Donahue and Grasshopper take their cues from late-'60s and early-'70s orchestral pop as well as their own See You on the Other Side; while more rootsy works like Deserter's Songs made their sound and moods more down to earth, their flowing emotions and imagery have always felt more at home in psychedelia. The gorgeously lysergic "Autumn's in the Air" captures the season's bittersweet spirit as it nods to prior greats like "It Was a Very Good Year," "The Windmills of Your Mind," and "MacArthur Park." "Central Park East" channels Jimmy Webb even more intently, as Donahue muses on the stories surrounding him on a walk through the park ("Everywhere you turn/Someone's letting go/And someone else is hanging on") while strings, keyboards, and traffic drift past. Though The Light in You isn't strictly a concept album, it covers the full circle of loss, healing, and joy; "The Queen of Swans" begins the album by comparing love's arrivals and departures to a bird's migrations. Meanwhile, songs such as "Amelie" flicker like candles between hope and despair, with the contrast between Donahue's fragile voice and the vastness of the music sounding especially poignant. But even the album's darkest moments sound like they've been sprinkled with fairy dust, and the optimism only gets brighter as it unfolds. Not surprisingly, Donahue and Grasshopper find salvation in music itself, whether they're buying and playing a new LP that makes them fall in love with music all over again on "Rainy Day Record" or dancing to the Rascals and the Pretty Things on "Are You Ready?," which manages to use a children's choir without sounding corny. Indeed, unabashedly heartfelt songs such as "Moth Light" border on sentimental, but the album's emotional sweep carries listeners over the occasional awkward moment. As The Light in You's title implies, Mercury Rev are seeking life's brightest moments, and they find them -- along with some of their most satisfying music in many years. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2009 | Co-operative Music

It's funny how love can be both incredibly intimate and universal-feeling at the same time. Mercury Rev try to express this paradox on their first album in four years, The Secret Migration, and if any band could capture that dichotomy, it's them: on Deserter's Songs and All Is Dream, they found a way to blend the epic sound that they'd been known for since the days of Boces and See You on the Other Side with more personal songwriting. Unfortunately, they don't quite achieve this tricky balancing act this time. Jonathan Donahue's diary-quality songwriting and Dave Fridmann's glossy, intrusive production work against each other, resulting in a collection of bland songs that feel overdone yet incomplete. Over time, Donahue has gone from being an extremely abstract lyricist to a remarkably literal one; even though Secret Migration's first few songs dress up his sentiments in Renaissance Faire frippery and nature imagery (the meandering "Black Forest (Lorelei)" begins, "If I was a white horse/An' offered you a ride/Thru a black forest..."), throughout the album his thoughts about love's healing powers are straightforward, almost to the point of being generic. He tones down the fairy-tale wordplay as the album goes on, but the painfully earnest feeling remains on songs like "My Love" and the self-helpy snippet "Moving On" ("Just move ahead, it won't be long/And it'll be brighter"). Donahue and the rest of the band deserve some credit for being so emotionally naked, but the lyrics are so intimate and personal that they're insular -- in some ways, it's easier to connect to words like "Wanna ask but I just stare/Can I run my hands through your car wash hair" than "Down Poured the Heavens"' "I praise the god sublime/Who let this fallen angel/I into this world of mine." The problems with the album's lyrics and Donahue's squeakier-than-ever vocals are even more glaring because The Secret Migration is so bland musically. The band's sound is as epic and ethereal as ever, but it's also surprisingly easy to tune out -- it often feels like an AOR-friendly version of All Is Dream, and the electronic percussion and drum loops on several tracks feel dated and fussy. For a few moments, the album soars: "Across Yer Ocean" and "Vermillion" have enough musical movement that the cringe-worthy words aren't as noticeable. The syrupy-sweet "First-Time Mother's Joy (Flying)" takes the opposite approach, with restrained sonics and lyrics that are so unabashedly sentimental that they actually are pretty affecting. "In a Funny Way" is hands-down The Secret Migration's best track, capturing the joy the rest of the album wants to convey with a mildly trippy, sitar- and brass-driven arrangement that nods to Mercury Rev's musical past without rehashing it. However, most of the album consists of near-misses like "Arise" and "Climbing Rose," both of which are pretty but just don't have much musical or emotional impact. The Secret Migration is oddly too conventional and too quirky; it's another paradox that this album, which in its own way is Mercury Rev's happiest album, is also, sadly, the weakest of their career. ~ Heather Phares
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Rock - Released September 30, 2008 | Excelsior Melodies

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 5, 2016 | Excelsior Melodies

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Folk - Released January 23, 2019 | Bella Union

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 29, 2008 | [PIAS] Cooperative

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Rock - Released October 3, 2006 | Excelsior Melodies

This soundtrack to the dark and brooding period circus drama Bye Bye Blackbird finds Mercury Rev operating instrumentally. Swirling, atmospheric, and expansive, Hello Blackbird retains much of the group's melodic, psych-pop core, but allows for a great deal more experimentation, resulting in a mesmerizing fusion of ambient electronica, modern classical, and Krautrock-inspired prog rock. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 1, 1999 | Beggars Banquet

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 16, 2011 | V2 Cooperative Music

Four albums in and Mercury Rev remain as surprising and daring as ever -- exchanging the volcanic noise and twisted sensibilities of earlier releases for ornate arrangements and ethereal strings, Deserter's Songs unlocks the beauty always hidden just below the band's surface, its lush harmonics and soothing textures bathing in an almost unearthly light. Standouts including the exquisitely waltz-like "Tonite It Shows" and the celestial "Endlessly" are like lullabies, their music-box melodies gentle and narcotic; even the most pop-oriented moments like "Opus 40" and "Hudson Line" share a symphonic, candy-colored majesty far removed from conventional rock idioms. Complete with its fractured instrumental interludes and odd effects, Deserter's Songs sounds like no other album -- for that matter, it doesn't even sound like Mercury Rev, yet there's no mistaking the record's brilliance for anyone else. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Experimental - Released January 5, 2011 | Excelsior Melodies

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Rock - Released February 4, 2014 | Excelsior Melodies

Deserter's Songs: Instrumental is basically for anyone who felt like they couldn't get enough of a good thing. While the original album was remixed, remastered, and otherwise fooled with to fine effect, it appears that this this set -- which mirrors that one song-for-song -- is literally the same recording sans the voices. Deserter's Songs was the album on which Mercury Rev lost its trademark, mischievous, and occasionally anarchic sense of humor, and became more ambitious musically; the truth is they focused less on adventurous music (if occasionally unprofessionally played) and more on a traditional symphonic pop framework, and Dave Fridmann's growing studio prowess, which one can hear without the interruption of the human voice, his Theremin or his Mellotron, Suzanne Thorpe's flute, Jonathan Donahue's chamberlain strings, Rachel Handman's violins, and brass, vibraphones, and Grasshopper's woodwinds. Only "Goddess on a Hiway" (the only song Fridmann didn't mix) comes off as anything like a song here. The rest of the instrumental versions of Deserter's Songs may sound less mopey and emotionally cathartic than its original version does, but without that pathos, and with all its blissed-out panoramic and dynamic "psychedelic" scope, it's also rather dull; coming off as a series of unfocused cues for a mythical soundtrack rather than as an actual album. Deserter's Songs: Instrumental is for MR completists only. ~ Thom Jurek
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 31, 1993 | Beggars Banquet

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 7, 2018 | Jungle - Mint

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Rock - Released December 4, 2012 | Excelsior Melodies

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Rock - Released September 22, 2008 | V2 Cooperative Music

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Pop - Released March 1, 2016 | Excelsior Melodies