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(debut) by Adrian H and the Wounds
The Devil's Bris Deluxe Signed Edition
A Dark Cabaret 2
Steampunk Poison Bottle Labels
set of 8 Poison Labels
Nick Cave once released Murder Ballads, an album that serves as the premise for a musical genre that effectively describes the work of Portland, Oregon's Adrian H And The Wounds.
Our narrator Adrian H sings grim stories of broken characters of flesh and blood, human tragedies that chase shivers down the listener's spine. His narrative style, spoken and sung in a hoarse, sonorous voice rides atop The Wounds' solid accompaniment which exudes an almost tangible sinister atmosphere. Sultry, passionate and intense through and through, the compositions provide the perfect drive and spark that Adrian's narrative story-telling requires. Adrian's ever-present piano forms the basis for the arrangements which rock with a cabaret post-punk mood à la Bauhaus and Love And Rockets.
The songs as stories are presented in a dark, brooding film noir style, as if told in a smoky joint in a backwater southern town populated by characters at the edge of society; they're broken and yet more whole than its shining citizens. These men and women are not presented as sinners but as rounded human beings condemned to life as it is without the need for redemption. They are 'real' if you like, observed by Adrian H as a modern day and more mature Bukowski who has chucked the excess and honed his stories to a razor-sharp point. It's all quite literate, dark and brooding, yet fused with speakeasy black humor.
Throughout, Adrian H's feverish vocals create a rapport with the listener. You’re not just eavesdropping on his songs, you’re transported to a malevolent side of town, just a step away from a knife blade and the deep, black abyss.
Featured on the album are Adrian's re-possession of three well-known tracks. First off is Tom Waits, 'Hoist That Rag' where Adrian leads The Wounds with a blistering organ through a bloody battle of saxophone, piano and percussive textures to claim victory at its end with a call to arms chorus and a tip of the hat to old Tom. Later, the band is on the vaudeville stage for "Chim Chim Cher-ee" with a dark cabaret atmosphere and three-quarter time; the harmless children's song suddenly turned into an angry nightmare. A haunting version of Bain Wolfkind's "Border Patrol" finishes the album with its sexy saxophone and crime-ridden streets; "a man lays dead in the snow," Adrian H intones, knowing all too well it could be a stranger just as easily as it could be himself.
Each song is a world all its own, sometimes introspective, sometimes vaudeville, sometimes driving post-punk, often very catchy and always very emotional.
Adrian's murder'n crime tales would work as a Tim Burton soundtrack: pitch-black moments, blackhearted and gloomy, yet sizzling and captivating. Adrian's virulent and venemous vocals deliver grim stories with musical echoes of Nick Cave and Tom Waits.
Moments like the slow breathing tone pace and jackboot industrial funk beats that introduce "That Hurts" -- and the treated piano break is one of several clear nods throughout to Trent Reznor's way around contrasting elements -- show what else is clearly at work. "Bad Man," which had previously surfaced on Projekt's A Dark Cabaret, Vol. 2 compilation, is as winningly dramatic as before, perhaps the album's most successful narrative song in a Nick Cave vein, while the whistling tones add a little Morricone to it all in turn. As for that Mary Poppins cover? If it's not up to, say, Waits' contribution to Hal Willner's Stay Awake Disney tribute album, it's still a sparkling version that manages the neat trick of both sounding perfect for a Tim Burton remake and sounding like it would be better than anything else about such a putative film project these days. Rating: 4/5 -Neg Raggett
Adrian H. wants to let you listen to what he is doing. The mood is gloomy through and through, the sonorous voice does the rest to chase shivers down the listener's spine. And it is still quite lively, which you'll hear here. As an example, but "Chim Chim Cher-ee" has been treated somewhat amusingly, and it shows in the implementation. Hoist That Rag is on the other hand you as a song that lives only by his gloom. Musical highlight here is the subtle jazz piano.
Generally, the fascination is not just for the dark Murder'n'Crime ballads, but also all of it still resonates subtly upon closer examination after the first listening. For someone who likes Tim Burton films, this album is love.
ADRIAN H AND THE WOUNDS are from Portland on the American west coast. The combo is a multi-cultural cast from Germany, Japan, Mexico and Ireland. Similar to what Nick Cave has done in the past, here is the unmistakable voice of the harsh and seemingly mystical center of all creation. Extremely effective, the piano is is the primary rhythm driver, but also the drums and the often used saxophone never fail to impress. The sax especially exudes an almost tangible atmosphere and holds the songs together in an impressive way without disturbing the effect.
You find yourself listening almost constantly just a step away from the deep black abyss, confining the sounds. The song "That Hurts" is one of the simpler pieces, but the rhythms and above all the dark vocals make it almost like a ritual experience. Even the track "Dog Solitude" is not relaxing, because here the much cruder sound captivates from the first until the last second. Cabaret flair is also constantly exuded. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" is like a furious tango, which is also excellent and if it could have been in the "Corpse Bride" soundtrack would have brought the world of the dead to dance. Then they move back and forth between different variations of dark music that is not boring at any time. The album is at the end complemented by two remixes of "Crooked Stick" and "Cookies And Cocaine", which are slightly out of place since the guitars reveal a very different face of the songs.
The album is the soundtrack for pitch-black moments in life that need a bit of spice and sarcasm. Everything is dark and dreary, is implemented in an extremely exciting way, and offers a special kind of listening experience.
From the sexual predation of "That Hurts" to the sinister incest of "Bad Man" and the cartwheel into madness of "The Night My Mother Screamed," the Texan-bred/Portland-based H's characters don't shy away from depravity - it's like splatterpunk without the gore. Even a cover of "Chim Chim Cher-ee" (from Disney's Mary Poppins) becomes an unsavory seduction tactic in the Wounds' gnarled hands. "Would you like to hear of the things I've seen?" he seethes in the opening cut "Memory," "of the horror and the evil of human beings?" Given his tone, we should politely decline, but we can't turn away from tragedy on display, can we?
You start to run the slippery pavement, desperately trying to find even the smallest light in the end of the dark lightless street, but nothing is around and nobody will help you. But stop, what is that. Isn't it a crowded pub there in front of you? And yes, finally, the salvage is so close. You run your last breath down and break into that last beckoning hope. Oh dear Lord, you are safe now! All the people around, the warmth of the fireplace and a good pint of a foamy beer. You look around and recognize the scene in the corner of the hall with a band on it. And surely, that is exactly what you need in order to dive into the atmosphere of the creepy chilling foggy night. The expressive voice of Adrian H guides your every new coming sip as it flows into your stomach. Both passion and strength are woven together in that special voice to bring the relaxation to your heart squeezed with horror. Your mind already filled with alcohol start to drift into the theatrical show casted by the total fusion of styles from the wide ballads and to the crazy cabaret driven songs. Piano and sax layers are mixed together to bring the delight into the suffering soul, erasing the borders between music and poetry. But the deeper you dive into the show, you start to realize that the faces around are nothing more than masks which hide the terror nature of surrounding zombie party, where you are nothing more than the main course and final bloody entertainment. Nowhere to run anymore, eat your "Cookies and Cocaine" and just dance to the rhythms of murder while the last thing that you will hear today and for eternity is the sound of the gentle but cruel voice of Adrian H and his devoted Wounds.
Ed è proprio nel filone dark-cabaret che s'inseriscono appieno Adrian H & The Wounds. Band, si diceva, sostanzialmente "nuova", con all'attivo un solo album prima di quest'omonimo. "Adrian H", risalente al 2009, macchiatasi in particolare di un sound dalla notevole "durezza", in grado di fondere assieme i lati più cattivi e orrorifici di Suicide e Bauhaus interpretati all'insegna di un matrice "teatrale". L'inusuale e curiosa formazione (tutti i membri si presentano con i soli nomi d'arte) - con il leader alla voce accompagnato da Broken Heart, dalle tastiere di Special K, dal basso di Shiggy e dal sassofono mascherato di The Raptor - aveva contribuito ulteriormente a suscitare un certo interesse attorno alla band.
A distanza di tre anni arriva il secondo parto del quintetto e le novità, in questo nuovo lavoro, non mancano né si fanno attendere: pur non abbandonando minimamente i canoni "hard" del suo predecessore, il nuovo album ne ammorbidisce e leviga gran parte delle spigolosità, riuscendo ad assomigliare quasi di più al Nick Cave di "Murder Ballads" che ad Alan Vega e soci. Ne è prova tangibile la spiazzante apertura di "Memory", sonata agrodolce al pianoforte su cui il vocalist recita una tragedia con un apparente filo di ironia, elemento del tutto assente nelle oscure profondità del primo album. Altrettanto sorprendenti sono i cabaret filodrammatici di "Dog Solitude", "What She Wants" e "The Night My Mother Screamed", in cui la potenza emotiva surclassa l'horror vacui negli intenti compositivi in una vittoria della componente scenica su quella musicale (come già avvenuto in più occasioni ai Dresden Dolls). Ma i Wounds "duri e puri" non sono certo scomparsi, e a dimostrarlo ci pensano le torture di "Dog Solitude" e gli spruzzi di sangue di "Nasty", assieme alla sinistra rivisitazione della filastrocca popolare "Chim-Chim-Cher-Ee". E se in "Bad Man" e nella cover in salsa funky di "Hoist That Rag" di Tom Waits il leader torna al "vecchio" ruolo di cantastorie à-la-Voltaire, "That Hurts" e la conclusiva "Border Patrols" sono invece frizzanti pastiche di pece nera ed elettronica, in ravvicinata memoria dei Nine Inch Nails, ad ampliare ulteriormente lo spettro d'azione del gruppo nonché a completare la tavolozza delle influenze.
Trasfigurandosi da temibili interpreti di drammi omicidi a cantastorie per notti insonni, Adrian H & The Wounds riescono a catalizzare la tensione emotiva, vero aspetto principe dei loro brani, in maniera molto più diretta e originale rispetto al passato. È l'ennesima scommessa vinta dalla Projekt, e a questo punto è possibile affermarlo con una certa sicurezza. Rating: 7/8
ADRIAN H. AND THE WOUNDS are your post-Goth storytellers. ADRIAN H. emerged from Texas and soon moved to northwest of USA, namely Portland in Oregon, to realise his vision together with THE WOUNDS. The immediate reference of their dark, brooding music with lyrics of great narrative power and poetic bent draw to mind references such as NICK CAVE, LEONARD COHEN, TOM WAITS, LOU REED, but they are eclectic enough to keep on with this referencing further on and it would be better and more exact just to say that they've blended and absorbed all and out came their own superb style, or rather a fusion of them. After a self-titled debut their sophomore full-length is here to depict "Dog Solitude".
Let me get the criticism out of the table here on the onset of the review - even if the sound is meant to be dirty and rugged, I would have liked for it to be clearer at times. That's the only thing that swept a full rating out.
The songs as stories in a film noir style are told in a smoky joint, they are populated by characters at the edge of society, broken and yet more whole than its shining citizens. You might get to think of NICK CAVE's "Murder Ballads" but these men and women are not shown as sinners but all rounded human beings condemned to life as it is without the need for redemption. More 'real" if you like, observed by your modern day and more mature Bukowski who chucked away the excess bullshit and got to the point. "Memory" is a brilliant introductory track, not only because it gives you a flavour of what is to come, but ADRIAN H. unveils it so in his passionate, expressive voice in a way that creates a rapport with the listener. You're not just listening to an album, but you're transported to their live show, which in turn is a theatrical show as well.
"That Hurts" is one that is a good representative of the film noir feel together with a great eclectic fusion of styles. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" will justifiably take you back to Mary Poppins, you'll hear a clever twist (both musically and lyrically) on that tune for sure! "What She Wants" is your dark ballad, with a slightly sleepy atmosphere, as if in a backwater Southern town. "The Night My Mother Screamed" is the highlight of the album for me, one that commands returns to it many times over, the cleaner sound of the piano layered with atmosphere, and the intensity in the narrative make it stand out immediately. Another commendable element is the sax in many songs, not given on a 'show off" point, but subtly underlining their dark velvety underground nature.
The album becomes really surprising and interesting with the remarkable interpretation of “Chim Chim Cher-ee” evoking some good-old souvenirs from the Mary Poppins-movie and the legendary song featured in it. The cover version is a kind of cabaret song with some grave male vocals and a saxophone joining in. This is the absolute highlight from the CD and I think this cover version is a real challenge.
The rest of the album moves in between a mix of gothic-cabaret and glam-rock influences. I have to admit that some albums sometimes need a rest before you can start listening again. I got different impressions and much more positive vibes discovering the same album one year later.
Projekt definitely is a good label to increase the popularity of this band.
Che immagine affascinante! Il cuore di un uomo del sud (Texas) che porta la sua esperienza cresciuta al sole tra forti contrasti umani e sociali, culturali, andando verso il nord (gotico) dell’Oregon, terra di solitudini e riflessioni; il cocktail che ne risulta ha il sapore di tequila e oceano, forte ma addolcito, estremo ma cullato dal rumore della risacca, del suono di navi che entrano in porto da nebbie fitte al mattino e fari che le fendono, occhi umani che guardano oltre le capacità terrene, propaggini e timori nel nulla per attirare dal nulla altre anime vaganti tra onde spesso forti.
La musica di Adrian H And The Wounds è sostanzialmente un folk americano, la versione gotica di un Bob Dylan disilluso dagli uomini: “Memory” apre il sipario…”, e proprio in questo brano la voce è quella di un crooner spietato tra tappeti di incanti sonori, pianoforte, archi ma soprattutto il sax, sempre re di solitudine e dolore interiore. Tra jazz e blues: “Hoist That Rag” collega l’underground a questi generi, il richiamo a Nick Cave è forte, l’underground così espresso è totalmente ‘made in USA’, quasi Bauhaus nella title-track avvicinando l’Europa ma solo per corteggiarne i figli oscuri.
Non manca un cuore ‘steam’: il cabaret grottesco dei toni vocali, del suono da taverna, non può che arrivare sotto lo chapiteau sdrucito di un circo dei primi del ‘900 con “Chim Chim Cher-ee” ed Adrian si trasforma in uno spazzacamino che cerca sulle strade della vita, nei sogni della gente la sua nuova Mary Poppins, ora non più sorridente con il suo ombrellino di pizzo ma fatale come le signore della belle epoque ma la magia della musica, anche noir, continua tra i solchi, nello spartito di questo brano.
Incanti felpati per “What She Wants”, un brano stupendo, quasi un capitolo a se nel cuore dell’album: tutte le precedenti (e successive…) tensioni sono stemperate da astrattismi eterei; è uno sguardo in alto, verso il cielo ed Adrian nel farlo incontra i suoi cieli aperti texani e le nubi della north-east coast in un brano, il cielo è lo stesso ma le nuvole mutano, come il suono…
Nel finale “Cookies And Cocaine” nel remix di Crackolate Chip, è un jazz silente, ora davvero jazz, noir e senza cantato, solo uno spoken in alcuni tratti del brano, una session d’atmosfera surreale, distorsioni di chitarra surreali, “Cookies And Cocaine” un incubo ma erotico, pensate a David Lynch, tra nuvole, taverne, maledizioni.
Adrian H And The Wound chiudono così il loro album ed un drappo nero chiude il palcoscenico: arrivederci a tutti voi, arrivederci su altri palchi o ancora una volta su quello gotico di Projekt, la musica tinge la vita… -Nicola Tenani
This almost feels like in an odd way a Dr Seuss narrated cd. Each song is another trip into fairy tale land with Adrian H who seems like a Goth narrator, more than a singer. And for a cd like this it works, and comes across as so fun and odd that you feel compelled to listen more to it. "What She Wants" is such a headphone track, you have to have this on the iPod and listen to it with all the lights out, to get the full feeling of what this song offers. This song in some odd way is so addictive and catchy, that you will find yourself sinking into the sounds and the story without even realizing you are.
As much as I got into the singer and the songs, it was the lyrics that really stood out. Adrian is quite the poet, and his songs are so well written, that you really feel this is what Murder Ballads would have sounded like if Tom Waits did the cd instead of Nick Cave. Songs like "The Night my Mother Screamed" show that the back-up band The Wounds are just as talented as Adrian. The instruments seem to compliment Adrian’s vocals, and the saxophone really brings the songs to an all new level. "Dog Solitude" show that sometime they think outside of the Tom Waits box and venture into Ogre country. This cd for 2012’s music scene probably has no place, and that is why I love this cd so much. It does not sound like anything I have heard in a very long time. This cd is a must for fans who are into the above mentioned bands, and want to hear something that is more than bubble gum and fake actors who think they are musicians. Great cd and good band, I am dying to hear more from them in the future. Rating: 8.5/10 -JamesD