hiss

The past few weeks have brought a rush of recognition for Hiss Golden Messenger, Poor Moon, and Paradise of Bachelors, for which we’re grateful and humbled. In the wake of the epic release party concert (see the previous post for photos; stay tuned here for recordings), below is our accounting of the recent slew of very positive views, reviews, and interviews. If you like what you see/hear here, please consider purchasing the album before the limited edition sells out.

NPR World Café Next has posted a Poor Moon review and two streaming tracks. This came as a most welcome surprise!

“…Blends the tried-and-true methods of home-grown bluegrass with the catchiness of contemporary indie folk… Showcases [an] understanding of the folk tradition as history that lives, grows and moves its audience in deep, unpredictable ways.”

–NPR

Alastair McKay has written a well-researched and elegantly referential four-star review of Poor Moon, accompanied by a brief interview, for the January issue of Uncut Magazine. It’s now available on U.S. newsstands, but not yet online–in the meantime, you can read it below (click the image for a larger scan.)

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“A small but grand statement, achieving country-soul greatness… Poor Moon is a beautiful, accomplished record… ‘A Working Man Can’t Make It No Way’ deserves to be covered by Merle Haggard… Poor Moon is gospel, played with blue notes. It is the sound of a sweet soul contemplating deliverence; as mellow and fierce and fearful as that.”

–Uncut (4 stars)

Hiss Golden Messenger’s From Country Hair East Cotton (a Blackmaps CD reissue of their self-released Country Hai East Cotton, which is still available for purchase in its original form) ranks at #38 in Uncut Magazine’s 2011 Top 50 (full list text courtesy of Stereogum) and #8 on their Americana list.

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Poor Moon earns the #7 spot in Shuffle Magazine’s Carolinas Top 25 of 2011, alongside some formidable company. Bryan Reed’s HGM feature “The Seeker” plumbs some of the deeper deeps of M.C. Taylor’s songs. And yours truly considers futures past, and the role of technology and retrospection for this issue of Shuffle’s Insider essay, entitled “Dem Bones: On Musical Nostalgia.” (You can read both in their paper layout format here.) We’re honored to report that the estimable music critic Simon Reynolds, quoted therein, has some kind words of praise for “Dem Bones” on his Retromania blog.

Shuffle Editor and fine writer John Schacht explores more notions of time in his article “Music as Conversation: Hiss Golden Messenger,” published by Blurt.

Dirty Impound has Dennis Cook’s wonderful, probing, long-from interview with M.C. Taylor, which manages to cover the Bible, the Grateful Dead, and the symptoms of the current contagious media landscape.

“While a great deal of what’s on offer today is as deep as a paper cut, there are beautiful, thorny exceptions, music that pricks us and reminds us of our humanity and potential transcendence. North Carolina-based-former-S.F.-area ontologically charged roots rockers Hiss Golden Messenger till green, fragrant ground, the smell of overturned earth redolent of decay and life in all its tendril throwing glory rising from their work… This band shuffles with archetypes and grasps at the sky in the hopes some higher power high-fives them somewhere along their weary road. It is workingman’s music that melds elements of Merle Haggard with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Rev. Gary Davis, where songs pulled from usually hidden places serve as the listener’s companions into their own craggy, shadowy reaches. By turns worshipful and wary, Hiss Golden Messenger is bread for incarnation and transubstantiation, feeding the body in the here and now while simultaneously nourishing less obvious appetites in one’s soul. It also happens to be great music sung in Taylor’s lovely, almost-too-honest voice, a dirt field relative to Sam Cooke and the Jerry Garcia who sang ballads that make one feel split open. The music is an evolving blur of folk, country, blues and the outside-the-mainstream work of pioneers like Roy Harper, Bert Jansch and John Martyn.”

–Dennis Cook, Dirty Impound

Cosmos Made Conscious has selected Poor Moon as its album of the week.

Thanks to Chaz at Durham’s Bull City Records for his enthusiastic review.

The Independent Weekly generously previewed the Poor Moon Release Party last week. And it is truly an honor for Poor Moon to be selected by Indy Music Editor and Pitchfork contributor Grayson Currin as the #1 local record of the year. All this national and international press is gratifying, but local accolades always taste sweetest somehow. In Grayson’s eloquent words:

Poor Moon, the most fully developed album yet by indie rock veteran and new Durham resident M.C. Taylor, might be strong enough to reclaim [Americana], that noun of convenience. This is, at least, pan-American music, gracefully shading a bedrock of refined songcraft with touches of soul, funk, bluegrass, classic rock and ancient country. Taylor delivers arrangements that are alternately pretty as a Southern daybreak and threatening as a late summer thunderstorm rolling across the horizon. None of these flourishes seems intentional or forced; they simply seem like the output of lifelong synthesis. And on Poor Moon, Taylor takes nothing for granted, evaluating his career, God, sobriety and sanity with an absolute rebelliousness of spirit. Too young to be told and too wise to be foolish, Taylor writes, sings and records from a place of great wonder, as if these old sounds and these proverbial thoughts are new. For these perfect 45 minutes, they certainly feel that way.”

–Grayson Currin, The Independent Weekly

Thanks to everyone near and far who has taken the time to listen and comment on this remarkable collection of songs. The Bachelors feel like proud uncles.

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