Norway - Full Moon 225 - 01/05/15
The Prophecies of Skeeter Davis EP
Some time before Xmas (well, actually a couple of weeks before December appeared) Acres Wild released a new, little platter, The Prophecies of Skeeter Davis EP. If you wonder about the name in the title: Skeeter Davis was an American country music singer (best) known for her crossover pop songs of the early 1960s, and she had a big hit with the sad ballad "The End of the World" (by Arthur Kent/Sylvia Dee) in 1962. One of our favourite Norwegian pop-combos deserve some acclamation, but we didn't have the time before Xmas all of a sudden was upon us. Better late than never, right? Right.
The new EP holds three songs: "Some Will Never Die", "Balcony Song" and "The Prophecies of Skeeter Davis". Yes, the first couple of times spinning the single unveil promising songs. I was really thrilled when they put out their debut track, "63" last year, but I wasn't that happy with their Aviate EP of last autumn, even though it sounded nice. Just like chilling pop should do. Pop music with fluttering shirts, wind and flowers in the hair. Acres Wild counts singer, guitarist and (main) songwriter Magnus Askjer Lefsaker, lead guitarist Simen Følstad Nilsen (who co-wrote the title song), bassist Even Andenæs, and drummer Mads Frøystadvåg Skovdahl. They all contributed vocal harmonies, I guess. Like Acres Wild state on their home site, the band is: '...eagerly driven by a search for The Good Melody and put it to deadpan melancholy lyrics, within three-minute songs.'
I have earlier said about Acres Wild's music that they aim towards - shamelessly, as well as proudly and indeed most pleasing - the 'sunny, wide-screened guitar pop'. Their songs are both up-lifting and catchy, but are solidly set deep into the land of melancholia. There are both bitter-sweetness as well as a comforting sadness within their songs. Like with "Some Will Never Die", the 'I' person are hurt, but is still standing tall: 'You never liked to drink, tonight you should try / You'll get older you'll go grey, and I will never die...'. In the "Balcony Song" the protagonist is a shy and romantic person, dreaming of tumbling into love, and maybe even more: he's dreaming of finding his place. In his life, in his hometown. With the line 'The only living boy in Oslo...' they obviously(?) nod towards Paul Simon, as well. Other bands/artists who come to mind (or have been namedropped by the band themselves) are: The Zombies, The Byrds, Big Star, R.E.M., and Teenage Fanclub. Plus, of course lots of others.
The title track is a cartchy and powerful song, with sharp and shimmering guitars (like always), and (again) nice harmonies. This song is a great finale to the short EP, which sounds both happysad and lighthearted. It is for sure filled with goodhearted pop music. So, what about the prophecies of that American lady, then? Miss Davis released the album Skeeter Davis Sings The End of the World in 1963, holding her hit from the year before - the already mentioned "The End of the World", with lyrics going 'Don't they know it's the end of the world...'. The reason for the sad tone is loss of love (either if it's caused by death, or broken love). The lyrics of "The Prophecies of Skeeter Davis" goes 'Don't they know it's the end, I don't mind..., and it closes with 'Why don't these, why don't these eyes of mine / See the ship, oh see the ship of the line / Don't they know, and don't they know it's the end, It's the end...'. Life hurts, love hurst, everything hurts, but my guess is that Acres Wild is a bit more carefree and happy-go-lucky than the tear-stained pop-folk crooner Davis (and her contemporaries, or people of her soul or vibe) was. I sense some more of R.E.M. mood with Acres Wild ('It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine'). We gotta cope with the politics (and the people) of today, of our time. Humanity (or in-humanity), or rather: we, the humans decide where the present fades, and the future starts and goes. Period. That said (and now it's late at night, and I'm on thin ice here, and I know it... quasi-philosophical, I am. Yoda, I am), and everything else aside: Acres Wild's little EP, which was recorded/mixed by Sjur Lyseid (of The Little Hands Of Asphalt), is very good. Kudos to you, Acres Wild.
PS! For free, I'll give you some song titles taken from album titles by Skeeter Davis - if you're up for Davis' prophecies (or the philosophy of her music). Loneliness sometimes is good company (and many times it gives good lyrical content, it adds weight to a story, and creates cool titles, such as Prine's song "Speed of the Sound of Loneliness", or Sillietoe's novel "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"). "I'll Sing You a Song and Harmonize Too", "Here's The Answer", "Cloudy, With Occasional Tears", "Let Me Get Close To You", "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know", "Singin' In The Summer Sun", and "Why So Lonely?". Some are cheesier than others...but others seem to be cool.
Copyright © 2015 Håvard Oppøyen