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Chant Darling CD

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (4 Jan. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Bella Union
  • ASIN: B002TZVH2O
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,086 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

BBC Review

Lawrence Arabia, the alter-ego of New Zealand's James Milne, returns with his second full-length LP after stints in Okkervil River, The Brunettes and The Ruby Suns. It's only apt then that after upping sticks to London via Port Chalmers and Stockholm, his second album Chant Darling invents a journeyman's self-mocking world of despair and disdain, easy on the ear and graciously free of the twee sentiment that could so easily come as part of the 60s-aping production.

Low-slung Americana and indie-pop hooks form the core to Milne's distantly-voiced dry wit on topics including schoolboy crushes and drunken debauchery. His wit is also markedly tongue- in-cheek, adding pinpointed high octaves to emphasis the emotion. There is the feel of an honest, earnest lyrical jaunt at play here, against the lounge-set vocals and wriggly melodies.

A curveball comes in the form of Auckland CBD Part Two, an uplifting and inquisitive track full of tropical swagger, African rhythms and off-kilter syncopation that eschews all regard for a logical sequencing. Its soft-focus picks up from where Vampire Weekend's exploration left off and, around two-thirds in, makes way for a wonderful interlude of carnival brass and remorseful strings.

Apple Pie Bed is all quirky lyrics and lissom melodies, a succinct expression of Lawrence Arabia's bookish, slightly disembodied approach to situations more than fitting in Jonathan Richman's back-catalogue. And on paean to hipsterdom The Beautiful Young Crew, he wryly sings: “They love each other. But they hate each other/ They’re afraid of each other, because they want to screw each other.”

This album's orchestration is plush, and peaks are emphasised with spot-on key changes, fills and ever-soaring vocals. Sure, it would benefit from a trimming of lazy passages such as the one midway through the dreamy The Crew of the Commodore, but Milne's overriding strength comes from gloriously poppy guitar lines, deft phrasing, and sugar-sweet harmonies.

Lawrence Arabia's narrator persona, with one foot sternly in the past and the other staggering, trying desperately to get away, loiters before it settles. This makes Chant Darling a charming listen whose dolorous sentiment recurs like a welcome motif, each song taking time to reveal its full charm. --Natalie Shaw

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
New Zealand doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to music. The sheep-to-people ratio inspires sly comments and thanks to Neil Finn, Split Enz / Crowded House remain their biggest "musical" export. In truth however, the Kiwis have more of which to be proud.

The Shocking Pinks' contemporary late-end punk was beguiling, the D4's brainless garage-punk was fun and more than of note. Further back in time, The Clean did great things for lo-fi allowing them to stand shoulder-to-shoulder today with better known artists such as Pavement. Even the Nick Cave-meets-Jeff Buckley shtick of The Veils can be argued as Kiwi as front-man Finn Andrews spent so much of his youth there.

So up steps James Milne, better known as Lawrence Arabia. After two quietly successful albums in his native New Zealand, this latest signing to Bella Union lets slip Chant Darling, touring it in support of the currently much-lauded Beach House. No stranger to touring, having taken bass duty for Okkervil River on occasion, Milne's smug, harmony-heavy alt-pop ought to stand him in good stead.

He launches into the opener "Look Like A Fool" with Andrew Bird-like optimism and his shuffling rhythms and jaunty croon soothe Chant Darling into being. But Milne seems sponge-like, "The Crew Of The Commodore" is awash with the Beach Boys' vocal harmonies and Grizzly Bear's bounce. "Auckland CBD" jitters in Vampire Weekend-country and the slow-paced closer "Dream Teacher" whiffs of maudlin 50s rock `n' roll love songs. Elsewhere, Milne frolics with falsettos ("Apple Pie Bed") and fleshes out his arrangements with brass and strings to competent effect.

Chant Darling does flirt with insubstantial whimsy (the OTT antics of "Eye A"), but happily Milne's general summeriness mostly compensates. What is interesting though is that although Chant Darling's originality is at times questionable, these tracks are easily its best moments.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I Read about this artist and specifically this album at the end of last year. Pre-ordered it and have just listened to it. It is superb. It's music you immediately love but can tell there'll be much more to gain from frequent playings. Intriguing arrangements and lots of idiocyncratic vocal layers. Packed with melody and invention. It has a sense of humour and a sense of purpose. It would be doing him a disservice to suggest influences because this is very much filtered through an individual's take on the musical world. If you enjoy discovering new talents and are a lover of true melodic endeavour then you will be delighted and entranced with this release from the moment you put it on.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catchy Pop Treat 4 Sept. 2010
By Shenanigans - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you're a fan of Beatlesque pop like Crowded House, your album collection is not complete without this one in it.

I also discovered Lawrence Arabia (real name James Milne) as the opener for Crowded House during a recent concert in L.A. Having snuck a peek at the hilarious video for the delightful "Apple Pie Bed" prior to the show, I knew going into it that I'd enjoy at least one of his songs. Lo and behold, his whole set was fantastic, and he and his band easily won the crowd over with an excellent repertoire of catchy tunes, intricate harmonies, wonderfully retro guitar riffs, terrific trumpeting, and some pretty tricky drumming!

I overheard a fellow concertgoer compare Jim's stage presence to that of a young John Lennon, and I couldn't help but notice the similarities myself.

Having had the album for a week now, I'm totally hooked - it's instantly catchy and keeps getting better on repeat listens. "Apple Pie Bed" is an instant classic, and there are also many other terrific pop tunes here including the devilishly upbeat "Fine Old Friends," reggae-tinged "The Beautiful Young Crew," and the naughtily melancholic harmonies of "Dream Teacher." I challenge you not to tap your toes as you listen!

I'm looking forward to more from Lawrence Arabia!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Songwriting! 1 Aug. 2010
By J. Urmson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
If you enjoy classic pop songwriting with strong melodies and a little power pop, then this album is for you! The production and harmonies are stellar. There is a wistfulness and carefree feeling to the music that is missing from a lot of bands today. Songs like "Look Like a Fool", "Apple Pie Bed",and "The Beautiful Young Crew" are a wonderful addition to any Ipod, but the whole album is just as good. Hopefully this album will find an audience somewhere along the road. They are currently opening for the wonderful band Crowded House.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good 17 Sept. 2010
By Place of Eels - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I saw these guys open for Crowded House in Boston. Really enjoyed the live show and bought this afterward. Great CD - look forward to more from JM.
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving this album 11 Aug. 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I had the opportunity to see Lawrence Arabia last week in Dallas opening for Crowded House. I purchased this album on that basis. I am very pleased with this purchase. Jim has a great voice and I love the songs. Like Crowded House, creativity is at the forefront. We have all had the same phrases lobbed at us from countless musicians over the years to the point that it all becomes same old, same old. Like Neil Finn, Lawrence Arabia is a creative wordsmith. Give this one a few listens to fully appreciate it. It is worth your time and effort. If you want simple, trite crap you probably won't like this. If, like me, you have an adult taste in music and like something a little different from the norm then give this one a try. You'll probably be hitting the replay button in no time.
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