Danzig in the Moonlight Lojinx****
For those who might not be aware of it, Californian Ken Stringfellow is indie-pop royalty. For more than 25 years he’s worked at the coalface with bands such as The Posies and a reformed Big Star, and has helped out REM on the road and in the studio (notably on their albums Reveal and Around the Sun).
To call Stringfellow a veteran would be a mistake, but he’s certainly walked around a block or three in his time. To call him an expert in his field would be correct, as his work with the aforementioned Posies and Big Star (the former a class pop/rock act, still in operation; the latter, quite simply, one of the most influential indie rock bands) brims with love of melody and an intuitive grasp of pop/rock song arrangement.
Despite his continuous list of collaborations, both in songwriting and engineering/ producing (he has also worked with Damien Jurado, Neil Young, Patti Smith and Death Cab for Cutie), Stringfellow has really been on top of things when he’s on his own, and this ridiculously good album (his fourth) sees him deliver not only his best solo release to date but some of the best layered, lip-smacking indie-pop music you’ll hear this year.
The moods and styles throughout Incorporate blissfully melodic (Jesus Was an Only Child), riotous, multi- swathed rock/pop (4am Birds – The End of All Light – The Last Radio), bang-on pop/ soul (Pray) and intensely bittersweet CW/pop (Doesn’t It Remind You of Something?, a fragile duet with The Head the Heart’s Charity Rose Thielen).
Some of the songs remind you of what the wonderful John Grant might sound like if he had Stringfellow’s power- pop nous; some remind you of how better those two previously mentioned REM albums might have turned out had Stringfellow been brought more into the creative fold.
Whatever. Danzig in the Moonlight soars and sighs in equal measure. It’s a tad arch here and there, but ambitious and perfectly realised – so perfect, in fact, that the wince- inducing punning title is almost forgiven. kenstringfellow.com
Download tracks:Jesus Was an Only Child, History Buffs, Pray