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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twelve Crafty Tales
One grumble (and it's a big one!) then I promise I'll
get on to the good stuff. Call me obsessional or myopic
(or both) but the CD inner-sleeve credits are barely
legible. The smallest font imaginable - shocking pink
against an (admittedly rather good) background image of
a dead and decomposing bird spread out on the finely pebbled
road...
Published on 19 April 2010 by The Wolf

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great album - poorly designed packaging
A great collection of songs that really resonate on vinyl, and the title track is a classic (although you could argue that Grant's new best friend's Sinéad O'Connor's version of 'Queen of Denmark' delivers more anger and punch).

However, I defy anyone to be able to successfully read the lyrics or credits relating to any of the tracks as the font, font...
Published 7 months ago by JOHN GREEN


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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twelve Crafty Tales, 19 April 2010
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Queen Of Denmark (Audio CD)
One grumble (and it's a big one!) then I promise I'll
get on to the good stuff. Call me obsessional or myopic
(or both) but the CD inner-sleeve credits are barely
legible. The smallest font imaginable - shocking pink
against an (admittedly rather good) background image of
a dead and decomposing bird spread out on the finely pebbled
road surface where it resumed its aquaintance with its maker -
made my eyeballs ache in a futile attempt at deciphering
who did what, when and how on this truly wonderful album.
I believe the designer is Monosapien. He should be shot.

Rant over.

Now to the music. John Grant is a man of vision. He also
possesses a fine sense of humour. The twelve compositions
in this collection are remarkable both for their variety
as much as for their sustained quality.
The collaboration with American band Midlake has been a
fruitful one. Their sensitivity to Mr Grant's mission is
evident in every bar.

Whether in the dreamy child-like naivety of gorgeous melodic and
lyrical ideas like the two opening tracks 'TC and Honeybear' and
'Marz', or the late-night melancholy of 'Where Dreams Go To Die'
(the love child of Tom Waits and David Lynch) Mr Grant is never
less than a tantalizing guide though these beguiling imaginative
and deeply personal emotional landscapes.

He has a beautiful voice. Warm, rich, tonally secure and grounded.

Every song here has a curious tale to tell and Mr Grant has an
extraordinary capacity to breathe life into his subject matter.

'Sigourney Weaver' is a deliciously funny confection.
I particularly enjoyed his gentle swipe at Winona Ryder's
poor approximation of an English Lady in Coppola's 'Dracula'
("that other guy" comes in for a deserved ribbing too!)

'Jesus Hates Faggots' is a blistering piece of polemic which will
not endear him to those of a conservative spiritual disposition.
As a heartfelt attack on hypocrisy and intolerance it is peerless.

Final track 'Queen Of Denmark' is a bitter-sweet piece of
self-reflection. A magnificently jaded but powerful conclusion
(revenge never sounded better!!) to a toweringly creative album.

Unmissable.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John Grant - Heartfelt and deeply personal retro pop from a brilliant singer, 19 April 2010
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Queen Of Denmark (Audio CD)
4.5 stars

Sometimes album covers can set a "tone" for a record although quite what John Grant's image on the "Queen of Denmark" is intended to covey defeats me. While it might bear an uncanny resemblance to Keith Flint of the Prodigy, that is where the similarity ends since in terms of inspiration "Queen of Denmark" is about as far away as humanely possible to the sound produced by the twisted fire starters. Grant's previous band "The Czars" who came out of the Denver music scene in the 1990s but later imploded and barely registered in the UK. Yet those who did hear great songs like "Goodbye" and the superb country ballad "Bright black eyes" will know one key fact above all else namely that John Grant has one of the richest baritone voices in music. The Czars produced their fair share of lush chamber pop but on the "Queen of Denmark", John Grant has pushed the boat out and it sails brilliantly.

He does this in partnership with none other than Midlake. Grant recorded this album in Midlake's studio in Denton, Texas as Tim Smith and co were concluding their beautiful if flawed English folk rock based extravaganza "The Courage of Others". He is also touring the USA at the present with the band. What is interesting in this excellent debut album is that the presence of Midlake is primarily based on their 70s-style soft-rock know-how (Van Occupanther era) rather than their latest preoccupation. You certainly can hear some of the pastoral themes of the "Courage of Others not least of all on the one of the highlights of the album "I wanna go to Marz" which echoes "Winter dies" and throughout Midlake are the perfect backdrop to Grant's rich pop songs into which they breath life, but never overly intrude. That said whereas "Courage" sometimes becomes monochromatic and mournful "Queen of Denmark" is a much warmer and lavish pop record. In essence the two records are chalk and cheese and despite the presence of the Texan rockers on times you feel that Jackson Browne, Rufus Wainwright, Billy Joel and even Neil Sedaka were also on the other end of the phone offering advice to Grant.

Opener "TC and the honey bear" starts with a gentile acoustic guitar and Grants effortless voice across a sad love story. While some may find the operatic soprano in the background not to their taste on repeated listens it greatly adds to the songs warm melancholy. "Where dreams go to die" invokes that sadness which Richard Hawley seems to have a monopoly upon but takes it in a direction that is uplifting at the same time and wonderfully performed. "Chicken Bones" for some reason does to these ears bear some resemblance to a piano version of Axl Rose's "Sweet child of mine"! Grant lyrics throughout are witty and playful and this song revolves around the chorus of - "Some days just chicken bones/you better f -off now you'd better leave me alone/'cause I'm about to explode just like a Wonder Bread bomb/and I don't care what I know because I can't be wrong".

The most commercial song on the album is "It's easier" a rolling 70s style ballad with a West Coast feel that is a classic tale of heartbreak and an excellent introduction into the album. The later "Caramel" is equally gorgeous. The powerful "JC hates faggots" alternatively puts Grant's personal angst/anger fully in view examining issues with his sexuality and the Mid West prejudice he faced that lead to his contemplation of suicide. The albums title track is a true highlight with echoes of Rufus Wainwright and an often hilarious lyric. Alternatively" Sigourney Weaver" which also name checks Wynona Ryder takes the whimsy to far and the line "I feel just like Sigourney Weaver/when she had to kill those aliens/and one guy tried to get them back to the earth/and she couldn't believe her ears" is straight out of Alan Partridge. "Silver Platter Club" is bouncy and jaunty but little else. There are then a couple of missteps but overall this is a truly excellent solo debut album from the former Czars front man who deserves attention and recognition. The tons of promise showed by his band is now fully released on "Queen of Denmark " which is a beautiful and regal album.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MODERN CLASSIC...., 20 April 2010
By 
This review is from: Queen Of Denmark (Audio CD)
The name John Grant was unfamilar to me until I read a piece preceding the release of this, his debut solo effort. My interest was pricked due to the band who provide the backing, the peerless Midlake, whose The Courage of Others album is my current album of the year. Ironically, this could be the album to eclipse it. Lyrically, Queen of Denmark deals heavily with John's struggle with homophobia, self doubt and self loathing, but he is blessed with a lightness of touch and wicked sense of humour resulting in subject matter that could, in less talented hands, come across as self pity, instead ending up simultaneously heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Musically, a varied selection ranging from AOR style pop/rock drenched with harmonies to gorgeous, dramatic torch songs a la Rufus Wainwright at his most melodic to upbeat show tunes...with added swearing. Excellent. Marry that with Grant's stunning baritone and Midlake's understated yet virtuosic backing, this really is a collection to cherish forever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take nothing for Granted! The queen is king, 21 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Queen Of Denmark (MP3 Download)
I have come to this album after first buying "Pale Green Ghosts" and though the sounds are different, thematically they are similar. I mean this in a positive way. The witty title hints at John's sexuality and the songs within mention lost love And the bigotry he has faced.

The album is predominately an acoustically created work with caustic, witty and alienated undertones. As previously intimated the songs are of melancholy love, loss, regret and anger wrapped in harmoniously layered instruments.

I have a great deal of respect from John's obvious musically talent. He knows how to produce a tune, but I am staggered by the poetry and depth of his lyrics.

Individual tune breakdown is not my thing, I leave it to the reader/listener to make up their own mind about what they each mean and what similar style of music they remind you of. However I will stick my neck out and describe musical undercurrents as left field as Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bell mixed in with early 70's Cohen and Dylan. ( Call me crazy if you wish, bet you hear it too). Along with this there is rye wink towards stylistic folk music of the Fleet Foxes mixed in a tumble dryer with world weary Tom Waits cera 1975.

Enough of me trying to write like a music critic. This is an autobiographical confession of the soul that leaves you picking your jaw of the floor. JG like all great artists is a bit of a tortured soul, but that is where is strength lies.

I highly recommend "Queen of Denmark" and its follow up. This is what a true musician sounds like, it's not easy but will reward with repeated listening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Grant: Queen of Denmark, 22 April 2010
This review is from: Queen Of Denmark (Audio CD)
In theory, the star turn on this solo debut from Colorado singer Grant is the backing band: Texan rockers Midlake. But they've never played on anything as good as this masterpiece of soft, 70s melodies and sadness. Grant recently confessed to suicidal thoughts but he can also see the funny side of the end of one's tether, hence the fabulous "Sigourney Weaver", which sounds like the Carpenters and compares an existential crisis to the actress facing down insane odds in Alien, or the hapless Winona Ryder in Dracula, when she just couldn't "get her accent right". Terrific
Observer.
The bonus tracks on the second disc are also fabulous and this is the edition I'd go for. The cover images, however, with pictures of roadkill and flowers isn't the happiest....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the year!, 12 May 2010
By 
Glen C. "Glen C." (surbiton, surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Queen Of Denmark (Audio CD)
Yep - album of the year for sure. It's a bloody masterpiece. Feel a bit sorry for the guy actually cos I don't know how he could he follow up something this great with his next album.Get it now while it's hot kids!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John Grant - Heartfelt and deeply personal retro pop from a brilliant singer, 18 April 2010
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Queen Of Denmark (Audio CD)
4.5 stars

Sometimes album covers can set a "tone" for a record although quite what John Grant's image on the "Queen of Denmark" is intended to covey defeats me. While it might bear an uncanny resemblance to Keith Flint of the Prodigy, that is where the similarity ends since in terms of inspiration "Queen of Denmark" is about as far away as humanely possible to the sound produced by the twisted fire starters. Grant's previous band "The Czars" who came out of the Denver music scene in the 1990s but later imploded barely registered in the UK. Yet those who did hear great songs like "Goodbye" and the superb country ballad "Bright black eyes" will know one key fact above all else namely that John Grant has one of the richest baritone voices in music. The Czars produced their fair share of lush chamber pop but on the "Queen of Denmark", John Grant has pushed the boat out and it sails brilliantly.

He does this in partnership with none other than Midlake. Grant recorded this album in Midlake's studio in Denton, Texas as Tim Smith and co were concluding their beautiful if flawed English folk rock based extravaganza "The Courage of Others". He is also touring the USA at the present with the band. What is interesting in this excellent debut album is that the presence of Midlake is primarily based on their 70s-style soft-rock know-how (Van Occupanther era) rather than their latest preoccupation. You certainly can hear some of the pastoral themes of the "Courage of Others not least of all on the one of the highlights of the album "I wanna go to Marz" which echoes "Winter dies" and throughout Midlake are the perfect backdrop to Grant's rich pop songs into which they breath life, but never overly intrude. That said whereas "Courage" sometimes becomes monochromatic and mournful "Queen of Denmark" is a much warmer and lavish pop record. In essence the two records are chalk and cheese and despite the presence of the Texan rockers on times you feel that Jackson Browne, Rufus Wainwright, Billy Joel and even Neil Sedaka were also on the other end of the phone offering advice to Grant.

Opener "TC and the honey bear" starts with a gentile acoustic guitar and Grants effortless voice across a sad love story. While some may find the operatic soprano in the background not to their taste on repeated listens it greatly adds to the songs warm melancholy. "Where dreams go to die" invokes that sadness which Richard Hawley seems to have a monopoly upon but takes it in a direction that is uplifting at the same time and wonderfully performed. "Chicken Bones" for some reason does to these ears bear some resemblance to a piano version of Axl Rose's "Sweet child of mine"! Grant lyrics throughout are witty and playful and this song revolves around the chorus of - "Some days just chicken bones/you better f -off now you'd better leave me alone/'cause I'm about to explode just like a Wonder Bread bomb/and I don't care what I know because I can't be wrong".

The most commercial song on the album is "It's easier" a rolling 70s style ballad with a West Coast feel that is a classic tale of heartbreak and an excellent introduction into the album. The later "Caramel" is equally gorgeous. The powerful "JC hates faggots" alternatively puts Grant's personal angst/anger fully in view examining issues with his sexuality and the Mid West prejudice he faced that lead to his contemplation of suicide. The albums title track is a true highlight with echoes of Rufus Wainwright and an often hilarious lyric. Alternatively" Sigourney Weaver" which also name checks Wynona Ryder takes the whimsy to far and the line "I feel just like Sigourney Weaver/when she had to kill those aliens/and one guy tried to get them back to the earth/and she couldn't believe her ears" is straight out of Alan Partridge. "Silver Platter Club" is bouncy and jaunty but little else. There are then a couple of missteps but overall this is a truly excellent solo debut album from the former Czars front man who deserves attention and recognition. The tons of promise showed by his band is now fully released on "Queen of Denmark " which is a beautiful and regal album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Damn Fine Album, 4 Nov 2011
This review is from: Queen Of Denmark (Audio CD)
Gripes over first. Illegable sleeve notes, I did not expect the designers of the sleeve to consult support groups for the partially sighted for the colours for writing, against the most apt colour for a background, but the designers have found the worst possible combination! It put me off wanting to read any of the information. Perhaps the designers meant for the lyrics and credits to be there but illegable, as if they were to remain in some way private. I still have not read the notes or lyrics, no information with just the pictures would have been easier. Also for anyone who was tempted by the 18 mins bonus E.P. the material on it bears little semblance to the material on the main album, a 3 mins+ long witty electronic piece called 'The Good News', a short punky song 'Supernatural Defibulator' and two other tracks which stretch the boundaries of the main album material to looser better effect though the tighter focus of main album is enough. The first is possibly called 'On A Summer Night', the second is a slow building near instrumental.

The album proper is brilliant, I admire people who swear infrequently, but cheerfully and with wit, and the track 'Chicken Bones' has that down pat. 'Caramel' is another highlight, practically the Song of Solomon rewritten for a same gender lover. Rarely can I remember ambivalence towards the subject of love in its many forms to be so rewarding and lyrical, or so passionate. There is something good to say about every track on the album, particularly about making the title of the album the last line of the last song. The 70's style synth touches add unexpected textures and sound entirely congruous. The lyrics are of a standard that Randy Newman would be proud of and the singing reminded me a little of Harry Nilsson, a man with a playful heart. It is an album to play all the way through, that sets a mood with every tune.

I docked one star because of the sleeve notes and how much the bonus material differed from the main entertainment, and even then the docked star was more for the sleeve notes than the E.P.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant, 8 July 2010
By 
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Queen Of Denmark (Audio CD)
I probably can not add much to any of the plaudits that have already been said about this beautiful album, but would take issue with some of the detractors. This is an album full of great melodies, tunes that inspire, lyrics full of pathos and humour and an originality that is so good it almost hurts.

I have been listening to this for over a month now and it is rapidly becoming my album of the year (ish) as there are quite a few contenders. John Grant wears his heart (and homosexuality) on his sleeve in songs like 'Its easier' which is an ode to love gone sour and the sad realisation of the self deception we all go through when emotions get the better of us. I think there are so many stand out tunes that it is hard to say any are better than others but particular favourites are 'Marz', 'Lepoard and Lamb' and the title track 'Queen of Denmark'. The one that got me hooked was 'Where dreams go to die' which has the great line 'I regret the day you're lovely carcass caught my eye'. I have heard him compared to The Magnetic Fields around the time of '69 Love songs' but I think the comparison ends with the vocal style and an ability to wend humour into evocative music. That said John Grant's lyrics and delivery are far more evocative and all of his tunes have far more depth and resonance.

He made this after Midlake not only encouraged him to do so but allowed him to use thier studio and became his backing band, so I think we owe a great debt of thanks to Midlake for allowing this brilliant album to see the light of day. I can not wait for his follow up and in the meantime I have started to get hold of the 'internationally ignored' The Czars. I nicked that last quote from 'the great film 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch', sorry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Undiscovered joys, 2 July 2010
This review is from: Queen Of Denmark (Audio CD)
After more than 30 years of regular gig going, I continue to be amazed that you can still come across hitherto unknown artists of real quality. So attendance at a Midlake concert found me arriving just as Mr Grant took to the stage. The fact that his backing band are Midlake led me and my friends to conclude that we were indeed watching the main act. We started to look at each other as each song went by, with general agreement that this was really very bloody good (and also perhaps a]wondering why we were not hearing any songs that we knew and b] that the singers voice sounds very different and much stronger than on their records). Realisation dawned eventually of course, and I quickly bought this disc there and then.
Would not necessarily add to the very positive comments already, would endorse them wholeheartedly. This had me singing along to songs after three plays. Wonderful lyrics, pathos and humour. It has made me search out the Czars and is only the second or third album this year that I've specifically been recommending to friends. Thankyou you wonderful God of music and thankyou Mr Grant.
Two final things - his voice sounds fairly different live to the record - both equally as good. But I'd recommend seeing the live show. Oh, and Midlake were a disappointment [perhaps because they followed this], and i left early.
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Queen Of Denmark
Queen Of Denmark by John Grant
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