Bubblegum – Mark Lanegan Band

January is pretty slow as far as news goes, so I figured I’d talk about one of my favorite albums and artists. If you’ve haven’t heard of Mark Lanegan yet, you’re missing out on one of the best albums that came out last decade.

Here’s a quick history lesson: Mark Lanegan was once part of a grunge band called the Screaming Trees back in the 90’s. The band was heavily known around Seattle, but never became as big as the top 4 grunge acts (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden). During their final years, Lanegan’s whiskey drenched vocals stood out during a time when every singer was trying to impersonate Kurt Cobain or worse, Gavin Rossdale.  During and after the band’s disintergration, Lanegan battled heroin addiction. After he kicked it, he continued spitting out awesome solo albums (Kurt Cobain was on one). He then took time to join Queens of the Stone Age from 2000-2004 and still rejoins the band from time to time to record or even play a few shows. His raw vocals made songs like “Hangin’ Tree” and “In the Fade” even better. After he stopped regularly touring with Queens, he made this album, Bubblegum, 15 tracks of desert blues rock. If you don’t know what that is, this album will walk you through it.

With guest stars like Josh Homme, Izzy Stradlin and Miss Polly Jean Harvey, I feel like this is what a Queens of the Stone Age would be like if Mark put his blues-echoing vocals all over the track and added his own dark blues influences. It’s an album that can be played for a drunken night on the city, or for the slow nights at home with just cigarettes (listen to the opening track, “When You’re Number Isn’t Up,” and you’ll know what I mean). Lanegan jumps from soft songs to VERY heavy songs about methampthemine blues, wedding dresses, and going sideways in reverse. His harsh as hell vocals shine during these songs and make the songs more believable. Shit, knowing that Lanegan was sent to prison for drug-related crimes at the age of 18 makes me wonder how much of this is “writing” and how much of it is personal experience.

The fact that Lanegan has always been more reserved has made him even more of a mystery and in my opinion, a whole lot cooler. In today’s world when everyone and their mom have a facebook, twitter, tumblr, etc, not much is left to the imagination. The only way to find out about artists like Lanegan who don’t do many interviews is to listen to their music. He lets his music/lyrics piece together things about him, and from what I can tell, the man is a poet (and I say that in the most NON-fruity way).

Check out the videos I have posted below for a good idea on what the album sounds like. If you want to hear the full thing, it’s just a click away. Seriously though, go see him in concert or buy a shirt. Keep this guy around as long as we can cause there aren’t many like him left. And when the sad day comes when Disney finally wins and we have carbon copies of Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers all over the place and people like me are probably contemplating suicide, we’re gonna wish we still had some whiskey and black coffee drinking people like Lanegan around. Don’t be an idiot. Listen to this album.

Hit the City

Methampthemine Blues

Hundred Days

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