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The Deadly Snakes - Porcella -or- A Bird in the Hand Is Worthless [12 inch, double LP] (Cover Artwork)

The Deadly Snakes

The Deadly Snakes: Porcella -or- A Bird in the Hand Is Worthless [12 inch, double LP]Porcella -or- A Bird in the Hand Is Worthless [12 inch, double LP] (2006)
In The Red Records

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:


Contributed by: adamAdam
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Not that the Deadly Snakes' abilities were ever in doubt, but there's something about 2005's Porcella that's all the more remarkable months after the fact. 2003's Ode to Joy went lengths to shed any stylistic constraints that roped the band to their garage rock label, so the direction on Porcella wa.


Not that the Deadly Snakes' abilities were ever in doubt, but there's something about 2005's Porcella that's all the more remarkable months after the fact. 2003's Ode to Joy went lengths to shed any stylistic constraints that roped the band to their garage rock label, so the direction on Porcella was certainly not out of sync with what came before. However, the Toronto six-piece deserves a tip of the hat for pulling off this record as well as they did. Porcella is instrumentally denser than its predecessor, yet still maintains the organic roots of the Snakes' past work. Everything here is shared, from the songwriting credits to the seemingly revolving instrumental roles. Perhaps I just like the imagery of it, but the band's PR about recording in a secluded northern Ontario cabin rings true. Porcella revels in the space, the clean air and the earthy simplicity of rural life. This from a city band.

Porcella is simply a great record, with shades of Tom Waits, Nick Cave, the Band, `60s gospel and Canadian folk layered around what's ostensibly considered a garage punk act. Yet the statement made on Porcella was, it seems, incomplete. There's no other explanation for the presence of A Bird in the Hand Is Worthless, a double gatefold vinyl version of said release. Yet this is no simple media transfer, as the wax is completely resequenced and sporting seven fully realized additional songs. We've been inundated with useless reissues of modern records lately, most of which sport pointless B-sides or media content of dubious shelf life. Let it be clear then, this is far from some cash-grab "Porcella avec DVD" -- such would be a disservice. This is Porcella -or- A Bird in the Hand Is Worthless, as intended.

Side A kicks off as the CD does with "Debt Collector," a dark and moving garage ballad. The differences appear on the record's second track, jumping to the propulsive "Sissy Blues" earlier than the CD does. This is a small change but it's important, as moving the brooding "200 Nautical Miles" off to the 4th side changes the overall pacing. The chimes of Andre Ethier's wailing "High Prices Going Down" maintain position, paired this time with the soulful proclamation of "Oh Lord, My Heart." The first addition to appear is the stomping "Ambulance Man," unique for the backing vocals in the chorus, sung en masse by the band. The tune has a choppy "London Calling" rhythm and evokes a mood similar to the Clash anthem.

The B-side features a wealth of new material, with four of its five songs not featured on the CD. The lone representation of the plastic is "By Morning, It's Gone," a gleeful horn-driven tune that appeared on the latter half of that version. The side leads with "She's Going Home with Him," a poppy, organ-driven soul track. It's perhaps one of the most fully orchestrated songs on the release, and that speaks volumes about it. The additional songs here clearly aren't the typical session leftovers, and if they are they certainly don't show it. "Break-Up Conversation" is a country-duet between Age of Danger and guest vocalist Jenna Roker (of Montreal rock'n'soul act the Sunday Sinners). Andre Ethier steps back into the spotlight with "Bound to Get Lonely," forgoing his usual excited whelp for a deep voiced, bluesy tone. The accompanying harmonica cements the track. "Veronica Brown" completes the side, with Matt Carlson's wounded vocals juxtaposed by some huge sounding brass.

With the exception of two tracks on side C, the second slab of Porcella concerns it self with reordered songs from the CD. It's here where the sequencing gets interesting. The gentle "I Heard Your Voice" leads things off, occupying much the same place as it does on the CD. One of the two new cuts, "Don River Jail," adds a calm bit of soul and provides a nice setup to the frantic preacher-vocals of "Let It All Go." The movement of the pensive and quite brilliant "A Bird in the Hand Is Worthless" from the CD's finale to a rather un-important slot on side C is quite curious. The track provides a strong thematic tie to the work, growing from a seemingly simple nursery rhyme to a lush arrangement of strings. The song still holds up of course, but it seemed more fitting as an epic final note, not simply a middle track. The side instead ends with "No Sympathy," a new song and a bit of a murder ballad from Ethier's pen. It's the most guitar-heavy cut on the album, introducing some of the band's distorted garage past into their folksy organic present.

"Gore Veil" has the spotlight of leading side D, a fitting place for the curiously addictive mellotron-driven single. First rate compositions from the CD close things off, wrapping up with the crooning "So Young & So Cruel," the lyrically wonderful condemnation "Work" and the aforementioned "200 Nautical Miles." Side D ends with "The Banquet," a fast and shambling garage punk song by Age of Danger -- and that fact confuses the hell out of me. It's certainly an energetic finish, but there's no sense of finality to the track, certainly nothing to match the epic ending that "Bird in the Hand" gives the CD.

It's the reorganization of Porcella that fascinates me. Digital music has done much to kill the art of the sequence, but this is just the sort of band to obsess over it. The confines of vinyl force you, as a listener, to take notice. One wonders though what the intended artistic statement is. The purist in me says the vinyl, and with the expanded artwork and track list it certainly seems that way. Yet the CD will doubtlessly be the version most people hear, and with the audience in mind perhaps the cuts to the running order were for the best.

Porcella was a joy to listen to upon its release and remains so today. Even if you've picked up the CD, the vinyl version is so unique that it's well worth your dollar. You can't say that about many records.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (June 12, 2006)

Brian (or anyone that wrote a tsoaf review)

is anyone doing a review of the latest Hilary Duff?

i might do one, but dont want to put the time into it if another is already being posted

Not-to-Regret (June 12, 2006)

Wow I just smoked a joint and put this CD on during the 1st intermission of the hockey game, i'm instantly loving it. I would have to say the Doors are also a big influence on their ballads.

Anonymous (June 12, 2006)

I just realized Ambulance Man isn't on the normal Porcella. That makes this more awesome

Anonymous (June 11, 2006)

"Incidentally, can anyone recommend a good vinyl ripper? I've got a bunch of stuff that's been aching to come on the road (and to work) with me."

Audacity. Google it for the site. Its free and has a billion features, many of which the layman won't even understand. (like me). I just use a RCA - to - 1/8" phono cable between the amp and the internal mic port on your computer. Audacity grabs the audio, splits it between channels and then you can tweak the volume levels to get a good balance. Don't forget to gradually boost the bass levels as the songs get closer to the center of the record where they begin to lose quality.

-Ken

P.S. my vinyl rips are on soulseek - user ReadAGoddamnBook

Anonymous (June 11, 2006)

I love this album

feeeding5000 (June 10, 2006)

Hate to be pretentious, but this sounds really pretentious.

Anonymous (June 10, 2006)

fantastic album and nice write up there. thumbs up

Anonymous (June 10, 2006)

i might do one, but dont want to put the time into it if another is already being posted...

Nothing's been submitted yet, and I don't feel like reviewing something that sounds like a terrorist act on a U.N. meeting.

-Brian

Anonymous (June 9, 2006)

I've got the iMic from Griffen. It's pretty easy to use and has its own software

hungryjoe (June 9, 2006)

Sold! The CD version was already great, this sounds even better.

Incidentally, can anyone recommend a good vinyl ripper? I've got a bunch of stuff that's been aching to come on the road (and to work) with me.

Anonymous (June 9, 2006)

these dudes are killing it!!!

Anonymous (June 9, 2006)

Deadly Snakes.....ON A PLANE

adam (June 9, 2006)

Dante3000: "Do you need the original CD to fully appreciate this double LP or is it just as outstanding on its own?"

I don't think it's necessary, as this is a superset of the material on the CD. It was just my point of reference when approaching this, particularly since I had the CD for (what seems like) forever before the vinyl was finally available.

-adam

Anonymous (June 9, 2006)

I thnk some of their songs don't really work, but over all good band and a good album.

Anonymous (June 9, 2006)

Brian (or anyone that wrote a tsoaf review)

is anyone doing a review of the Sound of Animals Fighting?

i might do one, but dont want to put the time into it if another is already being posted

Dante3000 (June 9, 2006)

Honest to god real question, with no stupid ass joke:
Do you need the original CD to fully appreciate this double LP or is it just as outstanding on its own?
I only ask because you mention the original release so much that I feel you may need some sort of level to compare it with.
-Dante

the_other_scott (June 9, 2006)

damn adam, that review is dense. you canadians sure like words, eh.

these guys are rpetty rad, In the Red is a decent label too. i dig the ponys a lot.

adam (June 9, 2006)

I'm glad you're back Superdude. We've missed you dearly.

-adam

superdude (June 9, 2006)

This review was pretty good, but here's how I would make it better:

1. You know, that's not a snake on the cover.

2. It's a bird.

3. I thought only the Mars Volta still releaed vinyl

skaboom (June 9, 2006)

Is the album title supposed to be a play on Bright Eyes' Lifted?

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