Sunset Rubdown – Dragonslayer
Acquired: Christmas Gift, New, 2009
Sunset Rubdown's Random Spirit Lover was a pretty big deal for me. I obsessed over that album during the summer of its release (or pre-release, surely I had a leak) and it ended up becoming my favorite record of 2007, which in recent times has come to be known as my favorite year in music of the last decade. While I loved the theatrical quality of Random Spirit Lover, I think the warmth exuding from Dragonslayer is an improvement and I think I might like this one more than that one. Well, maybe. Let's just say I see them as equals. I love the overdubbed guitar riffs and the business of Random Spirit Lover, which feels like a vaudeville revue stuffed to the gills. I also love the warmth of the live-recording of Dragonslayer, and the immediacy that comes with that. The band feels like a band rather than a series of elements perfectly placed to form a whole. There's cohesion here, and the best moments on Dragonslayer are just as good as those on Random Spirit Lover.
Let's talk about those moments, shall we. Just look at the opening piano line on “Silver Moons,” the album's lead-off track. There's something incredibly gripping about that that pulls you right in and while the rest of the album is often more complex and much weirder than the fairly straightforward epic pop-jam that “Silver Moons” is another feather in Spencer Krug's cap. Maybe it's just his voice that makes everything come out of his mouth sound like the end of the world. But I'm just an obsessive and will gladly worship at the altar of Spencer Krug until the world falls apart. While Wolf Parade is often held up as an example of how indie-rock got into the hands of junior high school kids, fuck that shit. It's a great record, it's catchy and the songwriting is great and you saw pretty clearly that Krug, Boeckner and the boys had no intention of playing to anyone's expectations with At Mount Zoomer. And here we have Sunset Rubdown, which I think has artistically overshadowed Wolf Parade. Out of the realm of side projects and into the realm of this is a band I'm going to be listening to in my thirties as I recall with fondness “the old days.” The old days where I listened to this all winter on my commutes to and from work in Olathe, through snow storms and rain and frigid nights.
Basically, Sunset Rubdown have found a way to be absolutely grandiose without seeming silly. Just listen to the pseudo title track, “Dragon's Lair,” which I am currently blasting from the stereo and singing along. It's sprawling, packed full of mythologies, beautiful turns of phrase, and loaded with lessons learned from Krug's Swan Lake compatriots Dan Bejar and Carey Mercer. It hammers the point home for this record full of longing, or chasing after some dream that's long gone. “Dragon's Lair” is like an elegy for a conquering hero, in my head. The hero returns to praise and parades after returning form years of destruction. I don't know, Sunset Rubdown always cause me to conjure up images. If I ever had a hundred grand to blow, I'd use it on making the video for “The Mending of the Gown” that's stuck in my head. Fortunately, someone already made a pretty epic video for “Dragon's Lair,” which is eerily similar to the version I had in my head, only with a little girl, which somehow makes it way more awesome. Anyway, listen to this record if you haven't. For some reason, it's a 2xLP vinyl which I hate, but you know, I'll live.
Now, behold the video for "Dragon's Lair" in all its glory!