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coverpic flag US - New Jersey - Full Moon 179 - 04/18/11

Best Of Gloucester County
Sounds Familyre Records

Danielson, a.k.a. Brother Daniel, a.k.a. Daniel Smith, a.k.a. Daniel Christopher Smith. A man of many names, he is. Best Of Gloucester County is not a "Best Of", but his 8th album, all monikers included (the Famile as well). And, yes, he's getting better and better.

It's been 5 years since the last platter, Ships, so it's about time for a new one. Some players have gone, but, from the ol' Famile, sisters Megan and Rachel, plus his wife Elin, are still on board the "ship". New team-players count Evan Mazunik (piano, organ), Joshua Stamper (bass, horn arrangements), Patrick Berkery (drums and percussion), Sufjan Stevens (banjo, vocal) and Andrew Wilson (electric guitar). Most of them local players from the Gloucester County, NJ, area where Mr. Smith lives and works (with his own studio). There's also a horn section, plus some special guests: Swedish artist Jens Lekman (doing 'Swede' vocal on the song "Lil Norge"), Norwegian Emil Nikolaisen (of Serena-Maneesh), Glen Galaxy (of Soul-Junk), Mark Shippy (of US Maple), and Chris Cohen (of Cryptacize). Musically you'll find psychedelic traces of Captain Beefheart, Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, and Daniel Johnston, plus also poppier moments hinting backwards to the Kinks, the Beatles, T. Rex and more. Smith also describes his music to be " and folk and gospel (but in a way that doesn't sound like country and folk and gospel)." The result must be a feast, or what?

Opener "Complimentary Dismemberment Insurance" somewhat reminds me of a 'skinny' Frank Black. Really cool, and indeed a promising starter. "Grow Up" is really a wild and wonderful song reminding me of Roky Erickson and Daniel Johnston. Strange little oddball pop-tune "Lil' Norge" (Lil' Norway), written with his (Norwegian) wife Elin, sung by her and Jens Lekman. Quite joyous. "But I Don't Wanna Sing About Guitars" is another song making me think of Franck Black. I think it's Daniel's voice that is a bit Frank Blackish, even though Daniel Smith's vocal's a bit lighter, at a higher pitch. In other songs I hear Neil Young and Violent Femmes, like in "Olympic Portions" and "You Sleep Good Now". Well, fact is most of the eleven tracks hold a very good level quality concerned.

Best Of Gloucester County is really, really good. This is an album showing Danielson from a more rocking side. But, he's of course far, far from the main steam of rock artists. Thank you for that! This is truly eccentric music, but also highly catchy. 'Christian rock' at its best. Says 'atheist me', without blinking. Best Of Gloucester County is Danielson's best.

Copyright © 2011 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Danielson article/review: Ships.

© 2011 Luna Kafé