Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son by Damien Jurado
Sometimes my systems fail me. I rely heavily on technology to keep me on top of my ever-expanding music collection. I utilize a smart playlist in iTunes that automatically collects only albums from the current year, and I tend to listen to things only found in that playlist as the year goes on. I do go back and listen to older things, quite often in fact, but when I’m looking for something quickly, it’s to the “2014” playlist I go. Soon it will be the 2015 playlist.
This is problematic for two reasons:
- I believe an album should be given a fair shake before determining whether it’s worthy of the Top 31 for that year. Therefore, the timeline for the Top 31 actually runs from November 1 of the previous year through October 31 of the current year. Anything released on November 1 or after of the current year is then considered for the next year’s Top 31. But the smart playlist I use in iTunes is strictly based on the calendar year, so any albums that are released in November or December of the previous year are kept out of the playlist, and off my radar for the most part.
- Some albums get into my iTunes and don’t have the ID3 tag for the year they were released assigned at all, essentially relegating them to the musical abyss, as the iTunes playlist doesn’t see any songs that don’t have a year assigned to them.
I clearly need a better system, as an album that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to in the first couple months of the year (and was released on January 21, 2014) disappeared from my view as the year progressed, and didn’t make it into the Top 31 due to a technical glitch (it was mislabeled as a 2013 album in my iTunes). I only discovered it was missing because I found the album mentioned in a friend’s Top 10 for 2014. That album is Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son by Seattle’s own Damien Jurado, and it is fantastic. Leaving it off the Top 31 is a huge oversight, and I am frustrated by my own technological downfall.
You’ll remember Jurado from his 2012 album, Maraqopa, which was my #5 album that year. In that review, I wrote:
I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of Jurado — he’s been making music in Seattle for [now 19] years, but his following over that time has not remained consistent, and he’s generally played venues smaller than the 1,100-person Showbox Market every time he’s played. Up until Maraqopa, I would have defined him as your typical indie folk singer/songwriter. Most if not all of his albums are quite enjoyable, but they’re fleeting. The music doesn’t hook you.
Maraqopa is different. Maraqopa intrigues right from the first note. It’s hard for me to put my finger on why this album is so much better than all his previous albums. It’s definitely more psychedelic, with off-kilter sounds, distant echoes and frayed edges. But there are also blended harmonies, intimate pauses, put together in this intricately layered tapestry of sound. Jurado’s voice remains as it always has, evoking thoughts of early Neil Young, but this time, along with the beautiful orchestration, there are hints of Nick Drake, as if he were haunting the recording studio when the album was being put to tape.
Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son is a companion album to Maraqopa, in both tone and story. “[Maraqopa] was based on a dream I had about a guy who disappears,” Jurado said in the trailer he created for the new album back in 2013. “He leaves the house with no form of identification or anything and he decides he just wants to disappear. This new record is sort of a sequel to Maraqopa… it is about a guy who disappears on a search, if you will, for himself and never goes home.”
This album is every bit as good as Maraqopa, and I probably would have ranked it in the Top 10 if I’d continued listening to it throughout the year. Technology. Ugh. For all the efficiencies it allows, it introduces new hurdles and gaps that leave me wanting. Perhaps it’s time for a reduction in reliance on technology. Even so, happy new year, and enjoy this album. It’s worth getting both this and Maraqopa if you haven’t yet. Do it now.
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3. They Want My Soul by Spoon
4. Are We There by Sharon Van Etten
5. And The War Came by Shakey Graves
6. Nicky Nack by tUnE-yArDs
7. Not Art by Big Scary
8. The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett by Eels
9. Owl John by Owl John
10. LP1 by FKA Twigs
11. Black Hours by Hamilton Leithauser
12. Give the People What They Want by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
13. Lost in the Dream by The War On Drugs
14. Warpaint by Warpaint
15. Heal by Strand of Oaks
16. Stay Gold by First Aid Kit
17. This is All Yours by ∆
18. Brill Bruisers by The New Pornographers
19. Only Run by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
20. Augustines by Augustines
21. El Pintor by Interpol
22. I Never Learn by Lykke Li
23. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes by Thom Yorke
24. The Voyager by Jenny Lewis
25. Voices by Phantogram
26. Morning Phase by Beck
27. Hungry Ghosts by OK Go
28. Run the Jewels 2 by Run the Jewels
29. Cosmos by Yellow Ostrich
30. Teeth Dreams by The Hold Steady
31. With Light & With Love by Woods