THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Sunday, March 7, 2010
ALBUM REVIEWS : DANIEL JOHNSTON - IS AND ALWAYS WAS
When asking a friend recently if he didn't want to join me to see Daniel Johnston on stage he replied he wasn't interested as Daniel is more something like a freakshow. Of course it can be that he was looking for a great excuse for not having me as company but thing is : Daniel is a freak. You can even say that he might be the greatest freak you can find today. Praised by the press and artists (remember the T-shirt Kurt Cobain always wore) but only a handful of "normal" people are caring about Daniel's psychic outbursts that are literally screams for helps. Apart from being the godfather of the tapescene (most of his early recordings were made at home with a tapedeck and distributed on tapes), he also suffered from various mental illnesses and he was never ashamed to use it in his music, it became even a trademark. At the age of 48 Daniel comes up with his newest album and it's very far away from the lo-fi sound he once created, it's even a very neat orchestrated production which isn't very surprising if you see that the production was made by Jason Falkner, a man who has been responsible for albums by Paul McCartney and REM. Honestly said, with a producer like that, you can fear the worst...will he kill the genius by Johnston by proving he's a real producer? Luckily enough that's not the case, and I guess Johnston must be too mad to come up with a "normal" album. Mind you, there are times that you wish these orchestrated backgroundsounds away, wishing that Johnston performs the songs with a simple guitar. But with the release of this album there was also the wish to reach a wider audience but the great public are already satisfied with one fool (Thom Yorke). "Is and always was" isn't the best Johnston album ever but this man is such a genius songwriter that even if he releases a mediocre album, that it is still better than the other 10.000 releases you'll hear this year. It's a very varied album with some pure lo-fi rock ("Fake records of rock 'n roll"), DIY-tearjerkers ("Queenie the doggie" about the death of his dog) or weird psychedelic shit like the titletrack. I expected Daniel Johnston to release an album that had at least 10/10, the sad fool only managed 9/10...