Review : Elvis Perkins - The Doomsday
AdequacyIn an almost entirely majestic move, Elvis Perkins has done everything in his power to remain a centrally focused person. Having lost both of his parents to tragic circumstances, his music’s always prevailed on themes of life and death alike. And while his debut carried a tenderly elegant feel, his newest album, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, is a brisk flush of straight up Americana.
He’s gone one better with The Doomsday EP, released just seven months after the aforementioned album, this is an excellent release in every conceivable way. Taking his cues from the title track that appears in an almost identical take, Perkins presents his ideas with the help of gospel-based harmonies and old-fashioned, downtrodden vintage Americana roots.
There is absolutely no denying the gifted talent Perkins possesses as both a musician and as a connoisseur of rolling emotions in a weighty ball of poignant beauty. The slow tide that takes over “Stay Zombie Stay” is funneled with organ that sounds like it’s being blown through an attic and a country-twanged guitar that speckles with charming warmth. All the while, Perkins is left swaying side to side as he calls for his lover to stay by his side and with the help of a band that neatly gels right alongside, he’s able to carry the song the entire way.
The overall despair and mood on Ash Wednesday was Perkins’ way of coping with the sudden death of his mother. The album was shaped by this tragedy and it revealed a true ability of being able to hone one’s strengths into something that could still be a success. It didn’t take long before XL would pick up the rights to that self-released gem and catapult it to the righteous air it deserved. Things follow suit with The Doomsday, only this time, there is a bursting amount of uplift and optimism....full text
PopmattersThe Doomsday EP features two versions of the same song, “Doomsday”, with four other tunes sandwiched between the ostensible dirges. The folk-country songs fill a much larger space than their separate parts suggest. These are the songs that are the essence of rock ‘n’ roll. “Stay Zombie Stay” and “Stop Drop Rock and Roll” combine the country, blues, and African roots that the first instances of rock ‘n’ roll merged. Buddy Holly and early Elvis Presley might as well have cut records in the same studio as Mr. Perkins—there’s a reason Mr. Perkins and Mr. Presley share their first name. He must have inherited the raw rock ‘n’ roll spirit and dreamy voice. But, in fact, Perkins is the son of actor Anthony Perkins, of Psycho fame, who passed away from AIDS while Elvis was a teenager. Elvis’s mother was aboard one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center.
A version of a shape note piece from The Sacred Harp, “Weeping Mary” appears with a modern take. The beginning a capella multi-part vocal harmonies are as Southern Baptist as it gets. There is even some call and response. And then the electronics hit. The first few sparks from Perkins’s guitar signal the splendor that will soon commence. The kick drum speeds the rhythm immediately before what seems like every instrument plays forte. The guitar even gets a jangly rock solo. Then, as slowly as the beginning started, the end diminishes. The vocals are so hushed that the tone feels somehow holy. One does not have to be Christian to appreciate the timelessness of this piece.
Perhaps most important are the beginning and end pieces to this EP. The two takes on the same song work very well in this case. The first version starts softly and speeds into a lighthearted jaunt, unexpected given the subject matter. Wyndham Boylan-Garnett’s tired trombone stands starkly alone as the track begins. Then a shimmering strumming leads the track into a heavy kick drum, various percussion, and a more stout horn. Perkins’s vocals offer a bit of solidity in a constantly rushing call to life. “And though you voted for that awful man / I would never refuse your hand on doomsday”. The collective exuberance of the chorus sounds both joyous and zen at the same time. Perkins sings, “Oh I don’t plan to die / Nor should you plan to die”, sounding like general celebratory revelry, perhaps around a campfire or bar counter. A particularly cutting bass-line by Brigham Brough sounds like a sousaphone leading the most animated marching band in the world.
RollingstoneElvis Perkins' first two records were informed by his rough biography: His father, actor Anthony Perkins, died of complications from AIDS, and his mother died on 9/11. This EP opens with a New Orleans stomp about that "Doomsday" Tuesday and ends with a funereal remake. There's also an Appalachian folk dirge about a too-soon marriage and a roadhouse scorcher for a world on fire. Doomsday is brutally emotional, but Perkins' band adds a sense of defiance, making it safe for closing time....full text
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