John Grant – Queen of Denmark

Something rotten in Denmark?   Let’s hope not…Today’s selection is:

John Grant – Queen of Denmark

Listen to it here:  http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/John+Grant+Queen+Of+Denmark/65649133
Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_of_Denmark_%28album%29

Fun Facts : There isn’t a ton online about it as this is a debut solo album.  So let’s just say it’s an album about past struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and coming to terms with being gay.

Ali:

RC: John Grant – Queen of Denmark
Preconceptions:
Absolutely none. I haven’t ever heard about this guy. However, the album cover is creeping me right now. It reminds me of that Doctor Who episode where everyone starts turning into the Master and their heads are shaking side-to-side like crazy.

Mood:
Exhausted. Okay, I don’t think that is actually a mood, but if I have to pick one I’m in between meh and yay.

After Listening:
Is this a comedy album? Because this is f**king hysterical. I kind of want to make out with whoever suggested it. It’s the perfect burst of ridiculousness to both wake me up and make me insanely happy. (What? You guys know that I love weird.)

His voice is reminiscent of that of Stephin Merritt from the Magnetic Fields while the instrumental is slightly Bowie. Some of the piano reminds me of early day Dresden Dolls that is both chaotic and composed at the same time. A perfect paradox. Honestly, if John Cameron Mitchell made this album into a movie I would not only watch it, I would drive 50 miles away to see it if I had to.

To be honest, there are maybe one or two songs that are incredibly composed and have matching lyrics, but for the most part this album is incredibly nonsensical to me. If I am judging it by its syllabic rhythms, it’s actually very well crafted, but… well… I speak English.

It’s kind of hysterical as I’m trying to find musical parallels. I have just realized that I have a moderately impressive back catalogue of Indie music in my brain. I would, however, be the person at the concert making fun of people making expressive faces and singing along to the music like it was gospel.

Favorite track/tracks:
Sigourney Weaver – “I feel just like Wynona Ryder in that movie about Vampires. And she couldn’t get that accent right. Neither could that other guy.” Best. Lyrics. Ever.
Jesus Hates Faggots – I really hoped I hated this song. I REALLY hoped I hated it because the title is so WBC I wanted to dropkick its face (if a song had a face), but it is a scary laundry list of hatred set to a mockingly upbeat tune and it broke my heart to think that his father was the biggest douche canoe in Intolerance Lake.
Caramel – I dig a great love song peppered with loads of hyperbolic metaphors.

Least favorite track/tracks:
I couldn’t actually think of a song that really bothered me enough to be listed as a least favorite.

Overall (1-5 stars):  4

Marissa:

John Grant-Queen of Denmark

Preconceived Notions: I just found out about this album about 6 months ago and after listening to it the first time, I couldn’t stop for the rest of the day.  This could have been because I was at work and desperate for any sort of distraction or it could be because I’d never heard a song with the lyrics “I feel just like Wynona Ryder in that movie about vampires” and couldn’t wrap my head around the awsomeness of it all.  But I also nominated it because it seemed like it could be something of a divisive album.  I like starting fights, even when they usually end with me crying in a corner.  The crying is the biggest reason I’ve never pursued my ultimate dream of becoming a professional female boxer.  I mean it seemed to work out so well for Tanya Harding that I don’t see how it could possibly end badly, but my tears would get me mocked from fight #1.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the album, or hate it.  Either way, let’s punch it out afterwards.

As Listening:
TC & Honeybear- I feel like this is kind of like some sort of Winnie the Pooh/Neverending Story hybrid of a song.  I know I’m just being sappy but when he gets to the lyrics about Honeybear saying “do not take him take me”, I get a little verklempt.  It’s a much better love story than the entirety of the Twilight Saga.
I Wanna Go To Marz- reading off all of the candies in a candy never sounded so good.  The lyrics aren’t my favorite, but it reminds me of what it would sound like if Hedwig & The Angry Inch were to stage a production in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.  The guitar, the flute, the xylophone, it’s all somewhat creepy and otherworldly, but kind of sweet.
Where Dreams Go To Die- The verses sound like a late 60s lounge-crooning session or perhaps what was left on the cutting room floor when David Bowie and Gordon Lightfoot recorded some singles and then the chorus smacks you with this: “Baby, you’re where dreams go to die, I regret the day you’re lovely carcass caught my eye”….ouch, and awesome.
Sigourney Weaver –This is the first single that I heard of his and the reason I even searched out the album.  If you’re not laughing at this song, I don’t want to be your friend anymore.  Seriously.
Chicken Bones- This is the song that I had in my mind every time I was about to lose it, and didn’t even know it.  “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”.  Yet another amazing way of saying “eff you”.
Silver Platter- I love that he wants to be good at darts.  The sarcasm just falls off of this one
It’s Easier –So sad, but true…at least for me.
JC Hates F***ts- should be the rallying cry against fundamentalism.  He just lets loose here and throws everything back in the face of people who like to have their opinions but sweep their hypocrisies under the rug.
Caramel- I love the juxtaposition of this song with its immediate predecessor.

Queen of Denmark- I hope I can engrave the insults given here and then use them in a fight at some point in my life.  “Maybe you’ll get to be the next queen of Denmark” would sound great over slamming doors or even better, yelled over the sound of screaming tires as you pull away and flip the bird

After Listening : I still love this album and I probably always will.  I guess what I like is that he doesn’t seem to shy away from anything. Lyrically, I feel like every song just kind of goes for it.  There’s so much humor, anger, heartbreak and honesty in every song that I find it hard to believe that there isn’t something for everyone.  It sounds like there’s a ton of influence from Bowie and other glam rock artists, but it doesn’t feel like a copycat of anything, to me.  It feels entirely its own.  Maybe I respond to the theatricality or the lyrics or the humor, I don’t know.  There’s not a lot of upbeat, toe-tappiness to it but, for me, the lyrical content more than makes up for it.

Favorites: TC & Honeybear, Sigourney Weaver
Least Favorite: I Wanna Go To Marz

Overall: 5

Mike:

Preconceived Notions:  I realize now that I am putting together the playlists and the links to the wiki, that it is impossible to be completely uninfluenced before we listen to these.  That said, it helps that there isn’t a lot on the wiki about him – seems straight forward, single gay dude singing about love and life.

After Listening: There is a lot of cornball on this record. Too much for me.  The album features the juxtaposition between very polished music, and mismatched rough lyrical phrasing.   The lyrics aren’t all a goof by any stretch, but when they do turn serious – you can be caught off guard, or worse doubt whether they’re still supposed to be a joke.  While lyrically the thing is a bit of a hodge podge, bordering on a mess – musically we get generally two types of approaches slower driven ballads with synths and piano that are constructed in melodramatic forms, or a sort of white pop funk – still playing with the sythns but adding in more acoustic elements – guitars and bass and such.  As a whole the music feels like the real inauthentic part of this, you can never really tell if it’s supposed to be an ironic contrast, or if this really the best they can do – very formula driven, very boring.

Favorite Tracks:  None
Least Favorites:  “Queen of Denmark” – At one point in this bludegonening and stagnant affair, John asks “why don’t you bore the sh*t out of somebody else?” …..I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

“Where dreams go to Die”  This is the type of melodramatic schmaltz that makes it difficult to tell if John is doing a style parody, or if it’s a genuine outpouring of emotion.  But with lyrics like “I know you know, I know you know, that I know that you know”, and musical interludes with straight up cheesy strings – it’s either bad parody, or really bad earnest expression.

Overall 2.0  I’ll give John some credit for wrapping up his humor and his angst all in one and from moment to moment. But I don’t have much more praise than that, as after a few songs you begin to notice that the technique is executed extremely sloppily.  Mostly it’s a very juvenile effort lyrically and musically – I went from being bored out of my mind to cringing at times of lyrical prominence. Not funny enough to be a parody album, and not musically interesting enough to be a game changer – it won’t find a place in my rotation.

Seth:

John Grant – The Queen of Denmark

Preconceptions:  John Grant isn’t the Queen of Denmark, it’s Margrethe II! Basing the album on a transparent falsehood such as this dosen’t bode well.

After Listening: It’s a little slow and dark for pre-noon listening, but it’s really good.

Royal: Sigourney Weaver namechecks Keanu as “that other guy”, Chickenbones is the mellowest slice of badassery since Bad Bad Leroy Brown.
Spoiled: TC & the Honeybear, Outer Space

Overall: If Barry Manilow wrote songs about gay bears, if Steely Dan sang about Ridley Scott films, if the 70s were a going concern this album would own the universe. Throughout the entire album I thought “This is what a gay Jonathan Coulton would sing to his therapist”. Musically, I’d have preferred more variety in the tempo, but the various touches of synth & distortion perk up what could have been an overly sedate album.

Rating: 4.1
Prelisten Guess: 3.0
Season to Date: +1.18

admin (196 Posts)

Record Club began in the cold, dank, snowmageddon scene that was New England of January 2011. We’re probably no different than you. We all work in cubicles, some in smaller, less private cubicles than others; that just means we have to be even sneakier about how we listen to our music. But we have to listen to our music, mostly as a way of saving our own personal sanity. Sometimes our opinions lead us to debates that may or may not be published in their entirety on this site, but I can promise you’ll at least get a glimpse of the way our minds work. The main goal is to find new music we like or find old music that we didn’t know we liked. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes it’s a total and complete disaster. After our ears have rejoiced or stopped bleeding we try something else. This is our pattern, every Tuesday and Thursday. Sometimes, when the club isn’t officially in session, just to keep everyone on their toes, we throw in a theme day. We’re beginning to run low on our original list, so please, if you have albums that you’d like us to review or themes that you’d like to see our playlist of, feel free to contribute. After all, we’re all in this together once we punch the time clock. So if you’re busy (or just plain bored) lurking in your cubicle as you read this join in. After all, life wasn’t meant to be lived staring at a computer screen. I guarantee you, it’s at least more fun when you plug the headphones in.


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