DARNIELLE ON SABBATH
The Continuum Books-published 33 1/3 series, which devotes a book to an album or group of related albums, is ready for a big year. Several new series titles will be released in the coming months, and one comes from Durham songwriter John Darnielle, who leads The Mountain Goats. Last week, series editor David Barker released a 21-page sampler from Master of Reality, Darnielle's look at the 1971 Black Sabbath album of the same name. Written from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy in a California psychiatric center in 1985, Darnielle's Master of Reality is written in an emphatic, somewhat elliptical tone. The book will be released April 15, just two months behind Heretic Pride, the new Mountain Goats album on 4AD.
NEW PRAYERS & TEARS SONGS
Until Saturday night, we'd gotten exactly two new songs from The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers since the band's 2005 release of its debut LP, The Mother of Love Emulates the Shapes of Cynthia: A rambunctious rail against middle-class normalcy called "The Last Moments of Mary Stuart" and "Shepherd's Song," a Christmas tune that lead off a Toys for Tots benefit album presented by the music blog It's Hard to Find a Friend (www.hardtofindafriend.blogspot.com). But Saturday night, we got five more, along with the debut of a new Prayers & Tears lineup. Of those five, closer "Going to Charity"—played by frontman Perry Wright solo—was the linchpin. The story of a man who's left with a coterie of his lover's possessions after she abandons him for the West, "Going to Charity" builds slowly through minute images and painstaking word selection.
The new lineup—which consists of Megafaun's Bradley Cook on bass and Sweater Weather's Casey Trela on several instruments—comes in light of bassist and songwriter David Karsten Daniels' December move to Seattle. "The unsettling has ... sort of reinvigorated my dedication to this album," says Wright, who's now working to finish the rest of the album—tentatively titled Angel's Trumpet—and record it by the end of the year. "Things like bringing in Brad Cook and Casey Trela for an all-acoustic arrangement allowed us to disregard our worn-out default settings and stylistic crutches to see if the new material has any legs on its own."
VIDEOS ON SCAN
We spent part of last week here at the Independent's Durham headquarters updating some blog software and tidying things up at www.indyweekblogs.com/scan. Spencer Griffith, a new Scan blogger, will also be offering weekly videos of concerts from around the state. This week, check out Spencer's shots of Titus Andronicus performing at Dain's in Durham last week, plus his videos of Megafaun and The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers at Bull City Headquarters. Videos of the everybodyfields' swing through the state are due early next week.