Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mumford & Sons Babel Liveblog

I have a "to do" list this week. I am getting more and more committed to checklists, particularly in their "to do" format. I wrote on the list that I needed to post twice this week. Because I take checklists very seriously, this is a task I must complete despite the fact that no one will read this because I've been inactive here for so long. I am also extremely busy right now, so etching out the time to think and write is very difficult. However, I have a God send today. The new Mumford & Sons album has hit Spotify, meaning I can listen to it absolutely free (a huge development considering my current, tight finances). I'm going to listen to this album right now, while I work. I am going to liveblog the experience, thereby killing three birds with one stone. I will blog, work, and listen to Mumford all at the same time. This liveblog will also be interrupted by meetings.

12:28 Pressing play, I am currently eating pork chops and scalloped potatoes with apple sauce. They are delicious (Thanks Grandma!)

12:28 Banjo - Yes, this is Mumford

12:29 Marcus is coming out with guns blazing, lots of energy, big life concepts: love, loss, self-awareness, grace, choice, etc. etc.

12:30 "I cry Babel, Babel!" +1 for getting the album name shout-out out of the way

12:32 Whispers in the Dark - Ambient beginning like "Awake my Soul," Banjo! Kick drum! Holiness and devils mentioned, hooray for religious imagery! Mumford is back!

12:34 Love, lessons, coming home, serving the Lord. Oh Mumford, how I love you and your recurring themes

12:34 "I wonder if I blew my only chance!" You guys remember that song "Little Lion Man?" That you heard on the radio like a billion times? I'm not suggesting you listen to it. There are too many f-bombs. This is a family blog.

12:35 And "I will wait" begins. I heard this song about six months ago. I love it even more within the context of an album. I have decided that this task is impossible. I have too much to say (Weird!?). I cannot blog, listen and work at the same time. Liveblog will resume after work.

12:36 I like what I hear so far, it will be very tough to restrain myself from listening, but I'm on a DMB kick, so I'll listen to some of their catalog to get me through the day.

(The following Tuesday) As Calvin & Hobbes say, The Days are Just Packed. I've been going nonstop since I stopped listening to Mumford. On Wednesday night, I drove up to NYC for a conference. I squeezed in a little dinner with Flavin (#3) and managed quick tours of downtown and Times Square on Thursday night. As I ascended the steps at the Courtland subway station, I looked up to see the new World Trade Center in its partially completed glory. Incredible.

This is what freedom looks like.

Walking around with Andrew was awesome, he showed me the NYSE, Wall Street and The Treasury, where Washington was sworn in as our first president. We had a great time looking at old buildings, having burgers and beers, catching up and even sneaking in a couple snarky comments about the Occupy Wall Streeters (Yes, they’re still doing that. He’s so at home working back in New York and I’m so happy for him and Joanna.

I drove home from NYC Friday evening. Saturday I spent just catching up on my personal life, spending some time on skype with my lady friend and catching up with our old family friend who visited with us, Mary Laurenzano. Sunday was church, expense reports, miscellaneous office work and prepping to go to India.

That’s right, India. Just under two weeks ago, I got the awesome, surprise news that I would be visiting India for work. This morning I got up and caught a train back to NYC, where I made my way to JFK and I am now onboard with India Air, on my way to Hyderabad, India. Crazy, huh?
With no onboard wi-fi, I’m taking the opportunity to unplug from my e-mail. I’m getting into a book or two and I watched both Inception and The Hunger Games. Now, I feel ready to write, so I can finally crack back into this Mumford album. No, I really have not listened to a note of it since I last wrote. I’m serious about this live blogging thing. For clarity’s sake, I’m writing this according to EST, although I believe I’m currently 30,000 feet above Norway. Let’s get started back up with, “I will wait”

9:53 PM  I Will Wait – Feels like it beckons back to “Roll Away Your Stone”

9:55 This guy writes love and renewal so well. It seems he is always patiently waiting for something and grateful for the opportunity to do so. Patience is a virtue I wish I possessed more of.

9:55 More images of being helped along and greeted by loved ones

9:56 “So tame my flesh, and fix my eyes” – Incredible line. As the chorus repeats at the end, this is the kind of song that gets in your bones. If I were not on a plane right now, I’d be screaming in unison with them.

9:59 Holland Road – This one takes it a little slower. The first one of these we have on this album. It has a little “White Blank Page” feel to it. However, Marcus seems to understand the heartbreaker in this scenario a little bit better.

10:00 We got a little more banjo and kick drum. Man, he is using the heck out of the word calloused in this one. Tempo hasn’t sped up, but the songs developed a little more power. And . . . Horns! Classic chorus singalong type end.

10:02 We’re hearing a little more redemption again, “If you’ll believe in me, I’ll still believe

10:03 Ghosts That We Knew – This is another one that I heard months ago and absolutely fell in love with. This is the quieter, mournful song I was expecting Holland Road to be at the beginning.

10:04 One thing these guys understand is that relationships can be beautiful and intimate and totally 
broken all at the same time. I love the honesty and truth in that thought.

10:06 Hope is a wonderful, God-given gift. I love this song.

10:09 “The ghosts that we knew made us black and all blue, but we’ll live a long life, and the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view and we’ll live a long life.” I love this image of redemption.

10:10 Lover of the Light – I’m not sure what to think of this, I would say it sounds legitimately different from a lot of Mumford songs, despite the banjo.

10:11 Honestly, I’m feeling a little meh on this one. That’s alright, it’s still pretty decent and I pretty much love four out of the first six songs

10:15 Lover’s Eyes – Another one with a little more ambient beginning. And the vocals come in with a quieter instrumental start. I’m really kind of hoping this one stays this way.

10:16 No heavy banjo strum yet. Wait, nope, there it is. I’m really enjoying this song though.

10:17 They’re talking a lot about ghosts in this album

10:18 “I’ll walk slow, take my hand, help me on my way” – Again, I love reaching out and counting on friends/God, this is another thing Mumford writes well.

10:19 Ooooooohhh, Banjo solo! Melikes.

10:20 Reminder – “Without her I’m lost, my love don’t fade away” I feel like this is a little different variant on typical themes.

10:22 This is like a legit love song. Wow, that was short

10:22 Hopeless Wanderer – Alright, I’m gonna be honest. This is ruining the album for me. I already have a hypercritical streak in me, just ask anyone in the entire world that knows me. I don't want to critique my favorite artist's new album anymore. It takes away from being able to just sit back and enjoy it. And this post is long enough (Too Long)

This is the way it’s gonna be: Based on 9 of 15 songs (I got the deluxe version, because more Mumford), this album gets a 12 out of 10, 6 out of 5 stars, three thumbs up (an emphatic double eyebrow raise) and a recommendation to buy. This is not really anything new from the West London quartet. Similar instrumentation and themes and the impeccable writing we’ve come to expect appear throughout. I’m partially grading it on the credit they’ve already earned with me and the fact that I know I will fall more in love with this album as time rolls on. Call them the Everclear of indy folk if you'd like, but if you loved it the first time, you’re gonna love it again. Thanks, Mumford.