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A Wasteland Companion CD

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (9 April 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: BELLA UNION
  • ASIN: B007529XU4
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,535 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Product Description

A Wasteland Companion is the sixth solo studio album from indie-folk legend M. Ward. The 12-track album was made with 18 musicians and recorded in eight different studios in Portland, Omaha, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin and Bristol (UK). The multitude of musicians appearing on A Wasteland Companion includes: Mike Coykendall (percussion, bass), Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb (piano), John Parish (percussion, marimba), Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis (organ), Susan Sanchez (vocals), She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel (vocals), Jordan Hudson (percussion), Adam Selzer (bass), Nathan “JR” Andersen (piano), Scott McPherson (percussion), Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley (percussion), Dr Dog’s Tobey Leaman (bass), Devotchka’s Tom Hagerman (strings), Oakely Hall’s Rachel Cox (vocals), Amanda Lawrence (violin), John Graboff (pedal steel) and Tyler Tornfelt (bass). The recording utilized eight engineers, including Tom Schick (Rufus Wainwright) and John Parish (PJ Harvey).

BBC Review

Endless grafter and Americana chieftain Matthew Ward specialises in the kind of knowing multi-collaborative musicianship that prodigious US alt-sters pull off with such swagger. He’s worked with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst on the misleadingly named Monsters of Folk, one of the least-beastly supergroups to ever exist. He drafted in actress and indie pin-up Zooey Deschanel for twee-tinged duo She & Him.

So it appears time for solo songwriting comes whenever his creative juices start trickling. A Wasteland Companion is a scattered body of random missives and musings – one envisages it began as some tattered cigarette papers decorated with inner monologue laid down in chicken scratch. The preceding work, his sixth album Hold Time, is more synergic, but Ward has always written some songs that prompt a pinging internal light bulb and others that seem unremarkable.

This album is wildly diverse, the product of recordings in eight studios, but its running order initially seems oh so arbitrary. Opener Clean Slate is locomotive and pastoral, but has a paranoid energy and contemplative underbelly – understandably, since it’s an ode to the late Alex Chilton of Big Star. In an uncomfortable flip, Primitive Girl ups the tempo and previously muffled vocals become gruffer to facilitate a fuller sound.

Me and My Shadow is raw again, but here freak folk gives way to resonant rockabilly. Deschanel adds saccharine tints to a chokingly poppy cover of Daniel Johnston’s Sweetheart, turning what was once a hungover, clapped-out ditty tapped out on a cardboard box into slop worthy of a John Hughes soundtrack. But later the album levels out into timeless, romantic folk.

Ward’s vocals bind this set, even if at times his cocksure rasp jars with fractured lyrics. Highlights are confessional, unadorned guitar solo tracks like Wild Goose. Most songs weigh in around three minutes but some have the ability to slow time down to a hypnotic plod that has you hooked for what feels like a lot longer. The sequencing seems illogical on first listen, but someone as dab-handed as Ward surely intended this, and the rollercoaster becomes easier to digest with each listen.

--Natalie Hardwick

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
What a lovely record this is. It has much more of the feel of his previous efforts Transfiguration of Vincent and Transistor Radio in my opinion his best albums. 2009's Hold Time felt slightly like Ward was going through the motions at times and included some unremarkable songs such as Oh Lonesome Me and To Save Me. A Wasteland Companion is intriguingly sequenced, opening with lovely acoustic flutter of Clean Slate, it then moves to some high paced rock n roll, and almost Motown sounding soul songs (Primitive Girl, Sweetheart, Me & My Shadow, I Get Ideas) before it turns a sharp corner with The First Time I Ran Away, a beautifully complex song. The second half of the album then becomes slightly more weirder and at times ambient, but contains some absolutely stunning songs such as Wild Goose, Pure Joy and There's A Key, up there with the very best material he has written. This man keeps getting better, and if he strays off the road slightly sometimes, he's straight back on it soon enough.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
After a noticeable slump, M. Ward has returned with yet another amazing album, although Hold Time was a great album, I feel that it pales in comparison to Transistor Radio, Transfiguration Of Vincent and now A Wasteland Companion. In this album Ward brings you to that unknown place with a deep look into his soul and your own, this album at least for me has led to a surprising amount of introspection.

This is a must have for any and all Ward fans.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Just M Ward at his usual best. Varied, unusual and melodic.
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Format: Audio CD
This is the first album I've bought by M. Ward and I'm not sure what to make of it! It's like a collection of B-sides from the sixties: second-rate songs, indifferent or poor recordings, awful reverb effects and artificially created distortion. It all seems to lack cohesion and direction. Having said that, I play it occasionally, possibly more as a nod to my love of sixties hits than a particular liking for these tracks.
"Clean Slate", "Primitive Girl" and "I Get Ideas" are all catchy tunes; "First time..." is pleasant; but the rest are less than average and the sixties-style production values suggest poor demo tapes rather than hit album material.
Listen to any 60's greatest hits albums from Britain or America, and you'll see the difference. (And the very high quality of many of the recordings, despite the analogue recording gear with all it's limitations, shows what could be achieved).
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