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The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore

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Album Review

There's no question that the story behind The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore is a fine example of artistic persistence — Saxon Shore founder Matt Doty had to deal with the departure of his earlier bandmates, recruiting and working with a slew of new performers using the Net to trade files for rehearsals and demos and then finally squeezing in a time-constrained recording session with producer/supporter Dave Fridmann, not to mention collaborating with cover designer Ben Volta throughout. Is the album as good as its back story, though? Yes, but only to an extent — Saxon Shore are clearly aiming for a Big Epic Rock sound in the way that Fridmann is unquestionably great at overseeing, yet Exquisite Death for that reason is a very unsurprising album, where the majesty is welcomed for its familiarity more than for its newness. Starting with the massive-sounding "The Revolution Will Be Streaming," all ascending guitar lines and huge drums, Exquisite Death captures moods both of universe-filling sonics and gentle, meditative reflections. The rich melodic flow of "This Shameless Moment" and "The Shaping of a Helpless Joy" and the dramatic descending piano at the heart of "Silence Lends a Face to the Soul" all show that they have their approach down to a T. To say that the album owes a large debt to acts like the Flaming Lips, M83, and Mogwai (the latter two especially since Saxon Shore is an instrumental-only band) is clear enough, but within those parameters the group achieves some strikingly beautiful moments, while Steve Roessner's drum work in particular is often the killer touch on many songs (his rolling fills on "With a Red Suit You Will Become a Man" being one standout of many). Saxon Shore have yet to make the best mark they can, but Exquisite Death is still well worth a listen.

Customer Reviews

Life After Death

Exquisite Death is with out a question the strongest effort from Saxon Shore to date. Gone are the lengthy and quieter meandering sections of their earlier releases, in favor of overall shorter track lengths and a more constant upbeat feel to each song. And while some people may be turned off by an all instrumental band, the songs on here really don't need words in them at all, you will find yourself humming along just as easily with the melody's on this album as you would sing along with any band with vocals. Yet the melody never overshadows the experimentation I have come to love Saxon Shore for. This album pushes the bounderies of music, with some effects not even sounding musical but more like static on a busted t.v. and as always the overdriven guitars and epic rise and fall of the music make for a very enjoyable listening experience for those more interested in the musical side of the band. Combine all these things and you get something close to 90's era Noise Rock meets the soothing melody's of Indie Pop bands like Death Cab for Cutie and The Decemberists. All that being said Saxon Shore still has yet to release a true instand classic. Their sound is its most fully realised and most epic on this cd, yet they still fall slightly short. I, however, see this as a good thing more than a bad thing because this is not a band past their prime releasing a final dying gasp for air, this is a band that will only continue to grow from this album. The Equisite Death of Saxon Shore proves that for this Philly based band the sky is the limit, and not even Death can stop them.

Saxon Shore Makes Me Smile!

Saxon Shore has really produced a great album. After losing some key members, the new crew has really come together and found the sound that made them shine throughout their past releases. Saxon Shore uses more electronic nuances on this album than in the past. In the past they just relied on basic drums, guitar, bass, and some crazy looping. I recommend this album to all who need good "driving" music. I saw them live... and they are AMAZING!!!

Neo Muzak

If you're looking for an album that will touch your heart, lift your spirits, and transport you to something ethereal and warm... This is not your album.

However, if you're looking for something to play on your car stereo while you try to talk your GF to go on the pill so you can rawdog it, this is the one. If you are editing a film and need a soundtrack for the scene where the protagonist drives to work on an overcast day soon after the object of his desire tells him about her obsessed ex-boyfriend who has connections to the Serbian mob, look no further. If you're DJ'ing a wedding and the buffet line has dragged things out to the point where the head table is ready for seconds and the distant relatives and obligation-invite-co-workers table just got the nod, there's a couple tracks here to fill the gap.

Simply, if you want the most melodic banality the Shoe Gazing scene has ever produced, this is that album. It's for people who still call a group of tracks released simultaneously an "album." It's the album you will play through, enjoy, and push it aside until the next time, which is several months later when you see it and say "Well, I have to stain the deck, and think about whether to sign on that mortgage. This will do."

It doesn't provoke feeling as much as it sustains an atmosphere of "OK, fine... Whatever." It's not bad, and I do respect the musical design. But the emotion of every song is the same: Intentionally removed for the sake of appearing affected.

In fact, on one song (and you can probably figure out which one), I can picture these 4 or 5 band geeks sitting in the studio, discussing the arrangement with flow charts and whiteboard staffs, when someone says "Hey, maybe we should try a minor key for one song," and someone else replied "Woah, woah, woah... Ok, but how about DMinor? Let's not go overboard, right. Or, let's stick to B Major, and maybe light a stick of incense. Get a little philosophical with our redundant progressions. Sound good?" And everyone nodded and smiled approvingly before the drummer started talking to the producer about, perhaps, increasing the "saturation" of his toms.

I'd imagine they'd be a great show, so long as you are on psychedelics and a vegan diet.


Formed: Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

New York-based Saxon Shore are a post-rock instrumental outfit whose spatial cinematic sound has been compared to the likes of Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky. Originally formed as a duo by guitarist Matthew Doty and future Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman, the band recruited bassist (and Josh's brother) Zach Tillman for the recording of their debut album, Be a Bright Blue, which was released through their own Broken Factory Records label in 2001. After signing to Burn Toast Vinyl, they toured the...
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The Exquisite Death of Saxon Shore, Saxon Shore
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