A Welcome & Fresh Alt-Rock Revival
Alternative rock veteran Mark Lanegan released his latest album Gargoyle with his self-named band. Lanegan, 52, still sounds wild, just like he did in the ’80s. Led by gravely, rough vocals and immaculate, well-thought-out instrumentals, the lyrics and tortured guitar riffs help Lanegan to stand out as more than just a former member of Queens of the Stone Age and the founder of Screaming Trees, a band that helped pave the way for grungy alternative rock.
Mark Lanegan’s work is reminiscent of that of legends like Tom Waits. However, it is mixed with the influence of ’90s alternative rock, creating a distinct tone that seems to roll off each song, colored by Lanegan’s deep, raspy, folky voice. That low tone is what makes entire album work. Each song — full of emotion and angst — transitions effortlessly into the next. Lanegan has been in the game for years, and his musicianship has aged like a very fine wine. Many of the songs on the album will take the listener back to a different era of music, but it’s rare that they ever sound cheesy, out of place or worthy of skipping.
The second song, “Nocturne,” is quirky and funky from the first contact of fingers with the guitar strings. The rawness found in the lyrics can also be heard in Lanegan’s voice, which often pushes the boundaries of meshing between blues, folk and rock. Pure soulful music is out in the open for the listeners to indulge in, and it’s beautifully displayed like a performance art piece. It is clear that these musicians are veterans who have been around the best of the best, helping to form a defining moment in alternative rock. It is rare that an acoustic song can be so enthralling all on its own, especially in the very beginning of the album.
“Blue Blue Sea” is so monotone in vocals that it sounds like melting chocolate. The utilization of other instruments towards the end of the track makes it almost sound like the background sounds behind an old movie. However, the part also kind of doesn’t mesh, considered the previous song before it. Lanegan entices listeners through showing how his basic vocal range, along with a mixture of funky, heavy guitar riffs and classic alt-rock, can make a listener keep going on to the next song, up until the final track.
Other songs worth mentioning are “Old Swan,” “Beehive,” “Goodbye to Beauty” and “Death’s Head Tattoo.” However, in truth, all songs are worth a listen. It’s hard to skip a song anyway, especially with so much raw talent in each track. Langean’s continuous dance with the blues will remind any folk-rock singer of the late Johnny Cash. Lanegan, who flies under the celebrity radar, is so heavily underrated, even after all these years. Some fans just can’t get over the past, like Lanegan’s beginnings, and sometimes the past doesn’t become convoluted with the future.