September 30, 2011
Be Prepared: Benjamin Shaw | There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet | 21 Nov.
Hopelessly beautiful, crumbling chamber pop masterpiece from charming London-based wretch Benjamin Shaw. There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet is sometimes like a blinky star you can't always see directly, and other times like a skeleton in a bridal gown that disintegrates in your arms as you gently waltz it into the surf while the packets of rat poison are kicking in. It's a majestic thing, this record, and each and every one of its songs. There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet is the sound of a man smashed to bits by a hammer and haphazardly reconstructed with clear tape, a mostly-ghost anchored in place by an enlarged heart and necrotic liver thought-bubbling songs so deeply sad you can drop pebbles down in them and wait and wait and never hear the splash. Spectral vocals condense and then decompose between the headphones, static unexplains itself in the foreground, violin patiently loses its mind, guitar and piano and synth take turns at half-heartedly asserting traditional structures.
The record is Mr. Shaw's first full-length, and (as we mentioned here in July) it will be released in the UK by the unwillingly brilliant Audio Antihero label Nov. 21. The collection will be preceded by the laughably un-pop single "Somewhere Over The M6," which Audio Antihero dubs "accidental shoegaze;" it is slated to hit digital storefronts Oct. 17. "Somewhere Over The M6," a stream of which is embedded below, is tied to a rhythm sample that sounds like a boat creaking, or a proto-iron lung wheezing under a cloudy chorus of slowly turning chords. But it is the paralyzingly beautiful "Home" that may be the most stunning song of the collection, a mournful lament that slowly builds a cocoon of noise and melody around itself, twice. Pre-order There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet from Audio Antihero right here. Audio Antihero previously released Shaw's EPs I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got in 2009 and the sinister Rumfucker in 2010; the latter EP is currently available as a pay-what-you-want download here and we can't recommend it highly enough. But not quite as highly as Cabernet, which by rights should dot year-end best-of lists you'll be seeing in the coming months.