Hiss Golden Messenger

I wish I could limit this to a song. Or a video. But the fact is that this is a fantastic band. Maybe the best I’ve ever heard. They’re that good. (Okay, this is overstatement, but I hope it got your attention.)

The problem is that they play classic rock, or classic country rock. This is a style of music that is so overplayed, so worn out, that you would think that creating new songs and sounds in the style would be impossible. But somehow Hiss Golden Messenger makes these old sounds sound fresh. The arrangements are fantastic. The songs are very good.

I find this confounding. Listening I hear Delaney and Bonnie meeting mellow Clapton, with some Allmans and Van Morrison, vocals by Steve Earle, a track here is a little like Dylan, that one is a little like the Band, but none of them ripoffs or lazily derivative. They use the phonemes of classic country rock and create a dream team. That is what this band does, on every cut, of the two albums I’ve listened to.

So, here are a few songs for your delectation. Rave on. These aren’t punk gods, like Hans Condor. They’re not innovators, but they’re not nostalgists either. They inhabit their music in a way that only the very best do. They are regular musicians trying to find a pay day. But I think you’re going to like what they do.

11 thoughts on “Hiss Golden Messenger

  1. I like the “Dancing” song quite a bit. Refreshing to see someone leaning toward the country in country rock, which is, of course, way against the grain these days.

    The singer’s voice reminds me of someone I can’t quite place. Paul Simon?

    It’s a real treat to find something good and new (or at least new to you). Happens to me maybe two or three times a year these days and it’s always special. Good for you, Peter.

  2. I think the voice is Steve Earle. The more I listen the more I hear Wilco, but it isn’t just that. That’s what I find amazing. This is music I feel like I heard 40 years ago, and yet it sounds pretty damn fresh today. Not derivative. To me, that’s amazing. I have no comparable.

  3. Steve Earle and also Gerry Rafferty, especially on the Dancin’ song which I love. The other two don’t grab me but they both get better as they go. The kinda stuff that should be on the radio.

    I just heard an interview with Rosanne Cash about the Beatles. I’m happy to report that she loves “No Reply” as much as I do.

    My idea of country music is Sweet Virginia, Stand By Your Man and Flowers on the Wall, but I love Rosanne Cash and this cover:

  4. There are all just beautifully constructed and thoughtful songs, Peter. I will download all I can and mash it into my brain. Since I am forgetting more and more as I age, I hope that frees up new brain cells to absorb.

    • I agree. Absorb them, at least for a week or two. They remind me of you, actually, the way your tunes on Downward Facing Dog channel but don’t imitate sounds we love.

      I’ll be posting more about Hiss Golden Messenger. The more I listen the more I bump up against the issue they seem to be Christian believers. I’m not, but I believe in the power of their sound, especially since I can’t make out most of the lyrics.

      So, I believe or go along, unless you make me agree to something I don’t agree to.


        • I’ve made my personal view on the importance of lyrics compared to sounds many times here. Anything less offensive and stupid than Skrewdriver’s “White Power” is probably OK with me if the music is there.

  5. So, did some reading about HGM. The main dude, MC Taylor, is a Christian, but this isn’t Christian music, by which I mean it isn’t proselytizing music meant to draw your sole to the church. According tor folks who’ve figured out the lyrics, or seen a lyric sheet, Taylor’s main theme is finding a way not to despair and even find some joy in a world filled with disappointment and pain. I can hear that in all his songs, and what got me excited was I heard the joy as clearly as the despair. You could call that a right christian thing, I think, though not exclusively.

  6. While no doubt some churches are content with soles, most are going after souls;)

    Just about all proselytizing music is awful as music; some succeeds as propaganda. I did not catch an overbearing MESSAGE, which is always a relief.

  7. Ha! While I have surely made that and many other homonymic mistakes in my day, this one was intentional. Pun intended! Churches attracting soles into the house is the real world equivalent of websites harvesting eyeballs. Or something like that.

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