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Daniel Johnston - Is and Always Was

  by Daniel Cressey

published: 28 / 1 / 2010

Daniel Johnston - Is and Always Was
Label: Feraltone
Format: CD


Recent album from eccentric genius Daniel Johnston, which, while as strange as ever, finds him adding volume and showing that when he decides to he is able also to rock hard

When he decides to, Daniel Johnston has long been able to rock. Although it is his cuttingly heartfelt song writing and, if we are being honest, his strange, man-child persona that has arguably brought him fame he is more than capable of blasting out a venue if he so chooses. Although it doesn't do it often enough, as it hits its stride his latest album pushes the rock aspect of what Johnston has always done best: slightly disturbed, slightly disturbing but always compelling music. Dreamy opener 'Mind Movies' is almost stereotypical Johnston, a yearning lament with his slurring vocal over the top and hints of madness, not least in its all too believable “I'm just a psycho trying to write a song” refrain. On follow up 'Fake Records of Rock and Roll' he laments people paying money for the named items. Done with straight up, traditional, and in the context rather surprising rock hooks it is rather like a strange but loveable relative raving about life in his day while your mother tries to drown them out by playing oldies records too loud. At other points though the eccentricity pushes over into annoyance territory. Johnston's die-hard worshippers may find something of merit in the cloying ode to a mutt, 'Queenie the Dog'. Most others will wince. But Johnston's selling point has always been his otherworldly strangeness. This means his albums are always something of a mixed bag. At their best his songs manage to sound like universally popular chart ditties from a slightly alternative dimension that is infinitely more compelling than ours. When they miss their mark they are more like the indulgent B-sides from that chart's bottom tier. All these elements are present and correct on 'Is and Always Was', but this time the package comes with some welcome added volume at certain points.

Track Listing:-
1 Mind Movies
2 Fake Records Of Rock N Roll
3 Queenie The Doggie
4 High Horse
5 Without You
6 I Had Lost My Mind
7 Freedom
8 Tears
9 Is And Always Was
10 Lost In My Infinite Memory
11 Light Of Day

Have a Listen:-

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Interview (2009)
Daniel Johnston - Interview
Mark Rowland speaks to damaged musical genius Daniel Johnston about his forthcoming album, 'Is and Always Was'. which has been produced by Paul McCartney producer Jason Falkner, and his long musical history


Daniel Johnston (2009)
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Frail musical genius Daniel Johnston's albums will be reissued gradually over the rest of this year. Mark Rowland reflects upon the first of these reissues, his 1983 album, 'Yip/Jump Music', and a compilation, 'Welcome to My World'

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Bloomsbury Ballroom, London, 31/10/2009
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At a show at the Bloomsbury Ballroom in London, Anthony Middleton watches Daniel Johnston play an erratic, but heartfelt and ultimately compelling set

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It's been over five years since 'Fun', Daniel Johnston's last album, was thrown onto the market by the Atlantic label, and four and a half since it became available as a cut out. Daniel Johnston has

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