Friday 07 May 2004
Charlemagne is the solo project of Carl John, leader of the alt.country band Noahjohn and proud possessor of the most disturbing face-fungus in pop. Charlemagne is what he did to relax after touring last winter: holed up in his Wisconsin home studio with an acoustic guitar, a primitive drum-machine and a few old keyboards, he wrote and recorded an album of character sketches told from shifting viewpoints, playing all the instruments and layering all the vocal harmonies by himself. The results combine the deceptive complacency of West Coast close-harmony country-rock with the darker, more sinister undercurrents of post-modern exponents such as Smog and Bonnie "Prince" Billy: both men spring to mind in "August Evenings" for lines like "I was stupid for your terror" and "Now you laugh at a dying man/ Who must partake of medicine/ To keep from doing himself in". Elsewhere, there are jolly songs of treachery ("How Could He?"), wretched men haunted by dead lovers ("Dawn Upon"), complex depictions of love and loss ("In Absentia") and, in "Portrait with No Shortage of History", a devoted, pained appraisal of a junkie lover. The sketches have an engrossing depth of character and an engagingly philosophical attitude.
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
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The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
Arts & Ents blogs
Heavy rain and years of 'benign neglect' may have caused Apollo Theatre roof collapse
Christmas TV guide 2013: Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Justin Bieber isn't retiring from music after all
The Harry Hill Movie, film review: Screenplay isn't so much offbeat as utterly feeble
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
- 1 Tim Sherwood challenges Daniel Levy to set out vision for Tottenham Hotspur’s future
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 5 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
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