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Album Review

The bandmembers' musical backgrounds gave no real indication what this first album would be like, and the result is quietly, affectingly fascinating. Pitched somewhere between the darker, quieter moments of European or European-based performers like Jacques Brel and Scott Walker and the haunting hush of more recent American acts like the For Carnation, 1 wraps itself in a lovely melancholia that avoids self-pity for deliberate reflection and consideration. Matters of the heart, as the band name indicates, are very much to the fore; no less than seven of the album's eleven songs have "heart" somewhere in the title: "Release My Heart," "Heart Without a Home," "Square Heart," and so forth. Many of the songs are piano-based or led, accentuating the late night blue feeling well, though everything sounds so high and lonely that, at points, the imaginary setting seems more like a lonely heath at midnight instead of, say, a smoky theater. The trio's blend of instrumentation is a definite strong point right from the first song, "The Waiter," with soft bells and what sounds like a musical saw mixing with acoustic guitar and bass. The use of accordion on the following song, "The Old Kind of Summer," brings the theatrical cabaret affectations of the group to the fore, but Jenkins' cracking, high vocals owe more to a certain strain of indie rock, making for a striking combination. At times his singing actually calls to mind the Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli in a wholly different musical context — perhaps a surprising link, but there's the same passion there. Of the album's many strong tracks, highlights include "Bluewater Blackheart," with a lovely piano break midsong, "Heart Without a Home," which slowly builds to a quiet, striking coda, and the distinctly doom-laden "Stitched to My Heart," with portentous opening piano chords leading into the no-less chilling main piece.


Formed: 1997 in San Diego, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in late 1997 in San Diego, the Black Heart Procession have been described as beautifully bleak and brooding indie rock with a dark side. Lyrically touching on the melancholy side of human nature, the five-piece band is appropriately named given its themes of isolation, depression, and heartache. The core members of Pall Jenkins and Tobias Nathaniel (Three Mile Pilot) also collaborate on-stage and in the studio with various musicians whose instruments include guitar, piano, percussion, and...
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1, The Black Heart Procession
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