Nick Drake – Bryter Layter

Through the initial CGR prodding, through MK’s stewardship, countless coversong or singles days – blog ideas, and maybe here and there some actual musical discussion here we are at record 100.

Nick Drake: Bryter Layter  take a listen here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Nick+Drake+Bryter+Layter/66064942

Find out more about him http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Drake#Discography

Fun Facts:  Drake suffered crippling stage fright – as a result there is no known footage of him as a performer.

He died at 26 as a result of OD from antidepressants – just missing out on the infamous 27 club of Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, and others…

Ali:

RC: Nick Drake – Bryter Layter

Preconceptions:
Wasn’t he in Degrassi or a Disney show? If this is who I think it is, it’s a rap album.

Mood:
Decent.

After Listening:
The moment his voice sounded on the album I thought “This sounds like a dude Zach Braff would put in a movie”. I just looked up the Garden State Soundtrack and realized that One Of These Things First is the song that I was thinking of. I really dig his sound. It’s not something that I would listen to on the regular, but it’s got that mellow flow that is conducive to writing. I think I might actually revisit this later on today when I have a moment to do some writing.

Favorite track/tracks:
One of These Things First – I don’t care if you agree with me or not, the Garden State soundtrack is friggin amazing. This was one of my favorite songs on the album.
Fly – It sounds like a Laurie Anderson experiment, were she a dude and more grass folk.

Least favorite track/tracks:
Everything kind of fades into each other. There isn’t really anything that I found distasteful.

Overall (1-5 stars):  4

Josh:

Nick Drake – Bryter Layter: 4.5 stars

Precon: Singer songwriter dude with good name whose entire catalog you must own to be a character in High Fidelity. I’ve heard his name a lot but never his music. I actually thought he was more contemporary but it turns out he’s been dead nearly 40 years.

Favorite Track: Hazey Jane II
Least Favorite: Poor Boy

Belle and Sebastiany. His voice may be even more delicate.
There’s a surprising amount of instrumentation. I just pictured a guy and his guitar.
From the sax to the backing vocals, Poor Boy is simply bizarre and doesn’t seem to fit with his voice or the other tracks.
Ok, I’m buying in to the whole Nick Drake thing. This is beautiful music with character. I want to hear more.

Magic the Gathering Card: Calming Verse

Marissa:

Nick Drake-Bryter Layter

Preconceived Notions:  I was one of those highly suggestible people who saw the VW ad and bought Pink Moon.  I just really wanted to feel like my life could involve moments of driving in a convertible (probably a Cabrio, since I was also super into VWs but had been told that owning an original beetle would be too dangerous for a new driver, even though I would drive by this house on the way home as often as possible since they had a gorgeous navy blue beetle just sitting in the driveway, taunting me) under the most gorgeous summer night sky everyday in my life.  So I’m familiar with him, but he’s not necessarily someone I listen to all the time.  I’ve never tried this album on for size, but I’ve definitely listened to  “Northern Sky” a bunch…probably first heard it on another commercial.

As Listening:  Come on, you know how I feel about a string section, this doesn’t really have to do a whole lot more to just earn a 3 from me.
At The Chime of A City Clock-is it just because I associate the sax with the 80s that I feel like this music has a “ahead of its time” or maybe just simply “timeless” quality about it?  I feel like if I hadn’t know when it was written, I would never have guessed that now this album is 40 years old.
One of These Things First –the piano is kind of the star of this song, isn’t it?  But Drake’s voice is so beautiful to me, and as he pulls out the elongated words here, there’s just this sense that it’s always just floating on the surface of the song.
Hazey Jane I- The guitar portion sounds like something out of an America song, but the arrangement on this is gorgeous
I like that what would be the opening track for each side of the album, if we were listening on vinyl is an instrumental piece.  Although I will say that if I just heard those pieces out at random places, I would probably think “elevator music” immediately.  In context though, it makes sense.
Fly- This is one of those songs that I can’t explain why I like it so much, but I do.
Poor Boy- I think I like it because it sounds like something that could have been performed on The Last Waltz.  The backing vocals, the sax, the piano.  This sounds like the closest this album comes to stepping outside of its comfort zone.
Northern Sky- There’s a reason this is the song off of this album that I’ve heard.  I’m glad that this song is towards the end.  It feels like everything just comes together perfectly on this track.  Drake’s voice doesn’t sound quite so melancholy, the lyrics are accessible, the punctuated piano.  It all just adds up to a really sweet, simple, innocent love song.  Yup, I’m a sucker for this stuff.
Sunday-This is how I would feel on a beautiful mid-spring morning, getting up at 8 o’clock, having tea, padding around the kitchen, opening windows, reading a book.  Unfortunately, my Sundays never go like that

After Listening:  This isn’t radio-friendly music and I can understand why Drake flew under the radar for most of his career.  He doesn’t wander terribly far in his musical travels, but the path he treads is a beautifully atmospheric one.  His voice is something special, something close to ethereal, and the music, although stepping a toe over the “elevator” boundary on the instrumental pieces, doesn’t feel rooted in any specific time.  Could I listen to this all the time exclusively?  No.  Is it a nice contrast to other things we’ve tried? Absolutely.  I should probably listen to Pink Moon (since I already have that one) more often when I’m in the car, it might stop me from flipping so many people off on the roads.

Favorite Tracks:  Northern Sky, Fly
Least Favorite:  They’re all pretty similar, so if you don’t like one, you’re probably not going to like the others, but there isn’t a standout “dislike” here for me.

Overall: 4

Mike:

Preconceived Notions:  I didn’t know anything about Nick Drake until I started putting together his playlist.  The stories of stage fright and early death made me think of Jim Morrison…but all indications were that the album wouldn’t sound much like the Doors at all.  I did think it was cool that Drake was supposed to be able to play piano, clarinet, and sax and I wonder if this album will have any of that on it.

After Listening: At 1st listen it’s largely an odd combination of folk music and 70’s string sections.  Drake’s guitar playing introduces some truly odd and wonderful melodies, but I find that a lot of the backing – in particular the strings sort of lessens the impact of these melodies into borderline generic territory. Similar to the strings; the horns, piano, and bass seem to have their moments individually, but when used as a backing they sort of flatten out the sound.  So for every nice piano part like on Northern Sky, you get burdened with one throwaway sax part as on At The Chime of the City Clock.  Nick’s voice is unique and has a solid timbre, but it’s not always the emotional strength it could be – if it was left in a little more free sonic space.

Favorite Tracks:  “Northern Sky”  – One of the few tracks on the album where the backing actually adds to the song, through both piano and bass lines being upfront – while we get chimes behind.  I think it works on this mainly because the guitar lines at no point take the lead only to be swallowed up, rather from the beginning of the song the guitar is a subtle instrument.  Drake is therefore singing to the piano 1st and foremost, and given the whimsy of his lyrics about love it’s fitting.
“One of these Things 1st” – If you listen closely near the end of the 1st verse, you can actually hear Nick chop up a chord abruptly – and produce a moment of musical dissonance (about :36 secs in)…was it a mistake left in to give that warm live playing impression?  It’s possible the way the melody flirts with dissonance near the choruses – that this was just an odd tone color purposely inserted (he does seem to replicate it more prominently – though not exactly at around 3:15).  Anyway, these are he little things that fascinate me about musical creation.

Least Favorite Track: “At the Chime of the City Clock” – The sax line kills it for me, here is a song screaming for some space in the arrangement, and instead we get forced down this generic sounding sax, which is introduced by an equally forgettable string section.

Overall 3.61 Here’s a case of when less would’ve clearly been more.  Drake’s voice may be capable of commanding a large arrangement of instruments, but his actual melodies are engulfed by what sounds like classic overproduction.  Most of these songs sound sanitized with very few rough moments to evoke a musical emotion akin with tone of the lyrics.  Surely there are ways to incorporate ensembles to focus a singer/songwriter into adding to the depth of their works (for me we just had one with Joni Mitchell), but for Drake on this album we get the accompanying music detracting from what seem to be engaging ideas.  I am interested in checking out his remaining 2 albums which seem to support my theory by being more stripped down than this.  Not a horrible effort, but I think a record that was self sabotaged before it left the studio.

“Nick was in some strange way out of time. When you were with him, you always had a sad feeling of him being born in the wrong century. If he would have lived in the 17th Century, at theElizabethan Court, together with composers like Dowland or William Byrd, he would have been alright. Nick was elegant, honest, a lost romantic – and at the same time so cool. In brief: the perfect Elizabethan.” – Robert Kirby

Paul:

Nick Drake – Bryter Layter

Preconceptions: I love his 3rd album, Pink Moon, and I’ve heard only two songs from this album, so therefore it is one of my curiosity picks. Nick Drake impresses me as a musician, singer and is an intriguing personality, with the stage fright that Mike pointed out in his presentation, as well as his severe depression. It’s interesting that such tortured people create such beautiful music.

After Listening: So, the first couple of songs are a little too pop oriented for my taste, but they are still pretty good in spite of sorta sounding like they could be on The Teacher soundtrack. However, as a whole this is a very good album.

I don’t have too much else to say about it except that Northern Sky is one of the more heartwarming love songs I’ve ever heard. It’s a shame Drake died so young.

Favorites: Hazey Jane I; Fly; northern Sky
Least: At the Chime of a City Clock

Overall: 4.12 Stars

Seth:

Nick Drake: Bryter Layter

Preconceptions: None. I have never heard of Nick Drake. I hope it’s not late 90s Hip-hop/R&B.

After Listening: Oh, it’s sleepy singer/songwriter stuff. Emphasis on sleepy.

Peak: N/A
Weak: At the Chime of a City Clock is the marshmallowiest of the bunch. It should have been an alarm clock. Poor Boy livens up the snoozefest with the sax and back up girls Lou Reed rejected at the Walk on the Wild Side auditions.

Overall: Top listening notes-
1. Drake’s quiet voice and dippy lyrics seems ideal for tranquilizing pets or the elderly.
2. At any moment I expect him to slip into Girl From Ipanema.
3. The sonorous campfire guitar and Ron Burgundy flute compete with the strings for your elevator riding pleasure.
4. He must have been deep into the anti-depressants to record this flavorless Little Debbie snack of an album.
5. I’d say “fck this album” but I’m kinda sleepy. Would you mind if we waited to do it tomorrow? I promise…
6. I guess someone thinks this stuff is interesting. Probably the same sort of person that collects taxidermy owls and hangs out at pharmacies.

Rating: 1.0
Prelisten Guess: 3.0
Season to Date: -.82

Extra Credit: Mike Judge- Lesbian Seagull

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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