Album Review: Detail of Distance

IMAGE COURTESY INDICA RECORDS

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief  Ω

I’m always wary when random CD’s show up in my mailbox with letters from agents or producers (usually a generic press release) asking for a review. I’m wary because most of these albums are just horrible.

I can’t overstate how truly disgusted I feel about the world when I put these things in my CD player because these “musicians” are getting signed and being allowed — and in fact encouraged — to share their repulsive excretions with the masses.

Usually, however, I can give them over to a staff writer to review, and laugh when they come back at me with “Why did you make me listen to that?”

Unfortunately, I have no staff over the summer months, so I fired Detail of Distance by Kim Churchill into my computer and waited for it to load, wishing I had a beer in my hand — or a triple scotch.

Wow.

This album is pretty much the polar opposite of everything I just said.

At times Churchill implements a slightly Celtic, Eastern-Canada feel but at others he invokes a more purist “folk medley” style seemingly more suited to a 1960’s sit-in.

At times he slides into a British pop, Coldplay-type vocal inflection while at other times raspy — almost grunge — sounds come from his throat in offering his poetry.

Churchill’s melodies and style sound like his songs should be over-complicating themselves, but the sounds and genres being utilized are so subtly incorporated into his clearly folk-rock background, and done so in a brilliantly seamless way, that they just kind of touch the surface of what he’s doing rather than being blatant or obtrusive mimicry.

Coded in Concrete opens the album, and rightly so.

Light fingerpicking with harmonica to accent the melody calls one back to their days listening to old Simon and Garfunkel (assuming one had those days) for about two-and-a-half minutes, then seamlessly develops a rock-feel reminiscent of mid 1990’s The Watchmen mixed with old-school John Mellencamp/Tom Cochrane (I told you it was complicated) before dropping back into its folky tones, and is a perfect introduction to the complex multi-faceted three-quarters of an hour to follow.

Bathed In Black will likely make it into my regular in-car rotation, with its driving rhythm and Dave Matthews-esque guitar/vocal combination — it’s a highway-driving tune in the same league as Golden Earring’s 1973 classic Radar Love.

According to the obligatory accompanying press-release, the album is “clearly highlighted by the album’s standout track Season’s Grind.”

I disagree.

Though Season’s Grind is likely the most marketable track on the album for mass-audience consumption, it’s hardly a “standout track,” though that might just be because the whole album is so good.

I haven’t listened to an entire album and not wanted to skip any tracks on the second listen for a long time. Thanks for that, Churchill.

It’s rock and it’s folk, but it’s not folk-rock the way you hear that genre in your head.

It’s classic rock and modern at the same time.

There are touches of country in some places as well.

I genuinely have a hard time placing this effort in a genre. If I was managing a music store (do those still exist?) I might have to seriously consider putting it in the “other” section.

At times haunting and echoing, at times driving forward with a purposeful, contagious energy, Detail Of Distance will definitely not be staying on the rack at the office with the various atrocities we receive in the mail.

It’s coming home with me.

Detail of Distance is set to be released May 15, 2012.