Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs: God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise

Ray LaMontagne is one of the exemplary singer-songwriters of the last decade, with albums such as Trouble, 'Till the Sun Turns Black and Gossip in the Grain, where he's continually stunned me with a number of songs, ones that have shook me to the core, while massive changes between albums has kept the music fresh, interesting and invigorating throughout. Throughout the albums, however, LaMontagne has kept steady feel and with his works, especially when it comes to the lyrics themselves.

God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise retains a lot of the best sounds of LaMontagne, but he once again stretches into very new territory. Opening with Repo Man, there's a harsh, accusatory sound to this, and it sets off a series of songs that are fairly dark, compared to some of the other songs in their repertoire. There's a real shift, which gives an entirely new dynamic to the sound and feel to LaMontagne. There are some standout songs, such as Beg, Steal and Borrow, which ranks amongst the best songs that the singer has put out with a steady country beat driving the song forward. This Love Is Over is another song that feels different: less moody, but more thoughtful as LaMontagne, accompanied by guitar, sails over the lyrics.

Old Before Your Time is possibly one of the songs that really helps to define this album as a whole. Fused with LaMontagne's great sound, there is a subtle country punk to the entire album, one that feels far more at home in rural country than in the urbanized ones (this image might help, as there's a song title New York City's Killing Me, which talks about the depressing and impersonal nature of the city: I just got to get me somewhere, / Somewhere that I can feel free, /Get me out of New York City, son, / New York City's killin' me.)

Indeed, a lot of the feel of this album seems split between where someone is and where they want to be in life, which is a fairly constant idea throughout life, with people separated from everything. Armed with the Pariah Dogs, LaMontagne sets up with a country and indie-rock feel that at points feels juxtaposed between styles. The result is a fantastic mix-up of sound and style that represents some of LaMontagne's best work to date.

A Stormtrooper for Halloween

When the Star Wars Special Editions were released in 1997, I came out of the theater wanting to be one of the storm troopers from the films, and within a couple of years, dressed up as a Storm Trooper for the 501st Legion and for Halloween on a number of years. (And the past couple of years - you're never too old for fun like that). That's probably the reason why I've been listening to John Anealio's song, 'A Stormtrooper for Halloween' nonstop since I downloaded it this morning.

John Anealio has captured a lot of what I feel about putting on my armor whenever I go out to troop or for Halloween. There is an enormous amount of nostalgia that I feel, taking me back to a couple of special moments for me: seeing Star Wars with my Dad in Montpelier, seeing my first 501st trooper up close and personal as a senior in High School, attending Celebration 3, and the numerous troops that I've been on over the last couple of years.

I first 'met' John on Twitter, where we talked off and on about related topics, and when I attended ReaderCon, he mentioned that he would be there as well, and we hung out for part of the convention, chatting about various science fiction things and his music. He generously gave me a copy of his CD, Sci-Fi Songs, which was released a year ago, and features a wide range of topics, from Blade Runner to Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica to Firely and quite a bit more. It's a great little album, and since then, I've diligently listened to just about everything that he's put out on his website. This song, A Stormtrooper for Halloween, is one of his best songs to date, adding to a really great list of songs that speaks to the geek community as a whole. These songs are also not the slicked up pop songs that seem to be coming out, with a wikipedia list of geek topics. Anealio's the real deal when it comes to appreciation of the genres, and this song just goes to prove that just a little more.

A Stormtrooper for Halloween suits John's style quite well - Sci-Fi Songs has a really good, laid-back style that focuses on the core subject of any given song. A couple of songs that it really fits with would be Rachel Rosen, Cylon #6 and The Millennium Falcon For Christmas, all on that album, as well as a couple of the songs that he's since released through BandCamp and his website.

If you haven't checked out John's music, you really should, especially if you're a SciFi/Fantasy geek like I am.

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