Mark Lanegan Band ‎– Gargoyle

Mark Lanegan Band - Gargoyle

Mark Lanegan Band ‎– Gargoyle

Label: Heavenly ‎– HVNLP137
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: US
Released: 2017
Genre: Rock, Blues
Style: Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, Blues Rock

“Better the devil you know”

Mark Lanegan has been singing with a deep, nicotine-ravaged growl since his band the Screaming Trees broke into the mainstream in the ’90s. Grunge had a few luminaries and Cobain and Co certainly prematurely ended a few Post Rock and Shoegazer plans for longevity.

Born in Ellensburg, Washington on November 25, 1964, Lanegan, by his own word, he grew up in a dysfunctional household and developed a powerful appetite for liquor and drugs in his teens that led to scrapes with the law. He’s been sober for many years now and has channelled his addictions into collecting vinyl records and enjoying gourmet foods. It has served the rock survivor well – and he sings about life’s trials and tribulations and his unease with it all.

He first toured Australia in 1992 and became good friends with Melbourne local Billy Walsh – the original Cosmic Psychos drummer who started Cherry and Ding Dong Lounge in Melbourne. Check out this 2012 recording:

Lanegan has stated “I don’t think there has been any other time as far as I know where so many bands from such a small city became so vastly popular. You had Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Soundgarden all charting and selling millions of albums. I think that kind of set it apart, but for me, I had been making records since 1984, so by 1994 I was ready to quit,” he jokes.

When he was 18, he struck up a friendship with Van Connor, who shared Lanegan’s interest in music. Lanegan originally agreed to play drums in a band with Van and his brother, Gary Lee Connor, but when it was decided Lanegan was a better singer than a percussionist, Mark Pickerel came on board to play drums with the band that became known as the Screaming Trees. The Screaming Trees released their first album, Clairvoyance, in 1986, but it wasn’t until 1992 that the band scored a commercial breakthrough when their song “Nearly Lost You” — which appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Singles as well as their album Sweet Oblivion — became a surprise hit thanks to extensive MTV play.

Though his first success was tied to the grunge scene, Lanegan subsequently carved out a strong identity of his own as a vocalist and songwriter. Lanegan’s music is nearly always informed by the blues, but the singer is willing to take his darkly poetic sensibility wherever his muse points him.

Lanegan has been a frequent collaborator with a number of noted artists, including Greg Dulli, Queens of the Stone Age, Isobel Campbell, Soulsavers, and one of my favourites Duke Garwood in With Animals. Mad Season Above is another of my reference albums which had Lanegan involved (and a story of survival and loss).

Gargoyle is the tenth studio album by American singer Mark Lanegan (credited to “Mark Lanegan Band”). It was released in April 2017 on Heavenly Recordings. It was produced by Lanegan’s long-time collaborator Alain Johannes. Roughly half of the music on the record was written by UK-based Rob Marshall with Lanegan, writing lyrics subsequently.

Mark Lanegan’s 10th solo album, his leather voice and slow-burning song writing play up the pulp and noir that’s been with him his entire career.

While retaining much of the darker imagery of previous records, Gargoyle marks a step toward a somewhat different “more electronic” sound. The bottom-of-the-boots voice is what fans of Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen will take to quickly.

If you not familiar with the work the live versions of Nocturne are good examples of what is driving this newer material. Try Nocturne & Goodbye to beauty (Live Rock Werchter 2017)
and the rough and raw phone recording in “Nocturne” Newcastle 30th November 2017 which gives you an idea of the wall of sound that hits you front of house.

Live he is an act not to be missed.

I like the use of keyboards in Gargoyle which bring a new edge to the raw grungy blues driving the work. It works for me.

Gargoyle is an ultimately an uplifting album.

Lanagen is a self-made man and a survivor. He says “I get to travel the world and do what I love and get to make a living out of it,” he smiles. He’s found a way out. He states “I’ve had my struggles and moments, but I am certainly glad I’ve stuck around.”

His fans are too!

Track listing

“Death’s Head Tattoo” – 4:20
“Nocturne” – 4:22
“Blue Blue Sea” – 3:24
“Beehive” – 3:49
“Sister” – 5:03
“Emperor” – 3:36
“Goodbye to Beauty” – 3:15
“Drunk On Destruction” – 3:25
“First Day of Winter” – 3:27
“Old Swan” – 6:30

Personnel

Mark Lanegan – vocals
Alain Johannes – guitar, bass, synthesizer, harmonium, mellotron, organ, harpsichord, percussion, background vocals
Rob Marshall – bass, guitar, synthesizer, piano, drums, drum programming, loops, horns
Greg Dulli – guitar, synthesizer, background vocals
Duke Garwood – horns, guitar
Martyn LeNoble – bass
Fred Lyenn Jacques – bass
Jean-Philippe de Gheest – drums
Jack Irons – drums
Aldo Struyf – piano, percussion, harp
Shelley Brien – background vocals
Josh Homme – background vocals on “Emperor”

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Comment (1)

  • Mark Gusew Reply

    Great review Mark!
    Nice history lesson that others that know Mark Lanegan’s work may not have known, I think your personal experience with Mr Lanegan shines through. A great read!

    April 8, 2020 at 11:56 am

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