JEFF ANGELL'S STATICLAND ALBUM REVIEW


As a young boy, Jeff Angell's discovery of Elvis' Heartbreak Hotel and Glenn Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy had a huge influence on him. There's certainly no doubt that his ability to write absorbing lyrics has come for the early draw of these story style songs. As a young man he threw himself into the Seattle music scene becoming the principal singer and writer for Post Stardom Depression and later The Missionary Position.

Most recently Angell graduated from Duff McKagan's Guns N' Roses side project Walking Papers. When Duff rejoined Axl et al, Angell saw an opportunity to continue the sound he had established with previous bands. The raw approach to Angell's brand of rock and roll was always there, along with the punkish melancholy of the Seattle grunge scene which shines through to his current work, so Staticland was an obvious and inevitable step forward.

Working again with PSD drummer Joshua Fant and Walking Papers keyboard player Benjamin Anderson Staticland was born. Jeff has said of the project's name, “we wanted something that sounded like a place or a television series...maybe it's a place where things don't change and these songs are our plan of escape...” Thematically and conceptually the album is exactly that. Its crumbling main character struggles with life, desperate to break out and the music is en-cloaked in a sleazy darkness to represent that. Everything Is Wrong has a sludge rocker riff that lays down the gauntlet, whilst Angell's subdued vocals hint of a man in turmoil, and that's just for starters.

The Edge has a grimy biker feel, with another 'upbeat' lyric, “I looked down and saw my future circled in a chalk outline.” However, the track has a veiled optimistic twist; you have to hit the bottom to come back up. The guitar work is balanced perfectly with a great percussive drive on the track. For a three piece, they sure know how to multi-layer their material to create some serious mood music. Band Aid On A Bullet Hole brings in a Doors retro feel to the album. Those early influences from Led Zeppelin to Deep Purple can be heard more than once on this journey, Nola being a prime example. There are tasty licks a plenty and some subtle, but vital keyboard work. Tomorrows Chore has a dirty blues riff and its kinky lyrics are certainly embellished by Fant's western saloon honky tonk piano. At times, there's also a more modern electro feel to tracks like High Score which are are reminiscent of U2's Zooropa album, which further add to the fluctuation of styles within the album.

The World Is Going To Win, a mournful song about the pains of Fatherhood has the feel of waves calmly lapping against the sand, but just as he can't stop the tide from turning, our protagonist is powerless to stop his girl growing up. The tranquillity of the track is once again peppered with those stabbing and revealing lyrics “watching her grow up can sure make me feel old.” Lines that just gnaw away at you, long after the track has faded. There are perhaps two songs that attempt to take things to a different, more amatory level lyrically, but the creepy synth chorus of If You Only Knew and the dead end romantic sentiment of I'll Find You make the tracks appear to have a more Bonnie and Clyde style ending than Harry and Sally. Freak and Let The Healing Begin finally see the tone lighten and the bleary-eyed refrains finally hint at some kind of hope as the morning comes.

The themes of regret, change, fame and depression run through the album. Angell has commented that his writing is part autobiographical, part dreamscape, and there really is the feel that you are lost in some grainy late night TV show. Picture a stormy night at a dingy motel with a neon sign that's only half lit, with all the wrong kind of girls hanging around, and you'd pretty much have the feel of the album. Cinematically it would be a Tarantino spin on film noir, or David Lynch once more wrangling with the workings of the mind. It's a beautifully bleak representation of a subterranean world set in aspic, that you fear you may never tear yourself from.


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