Stranger than Fiction, Larger Than Life: the Finn Brothers song-by-song discussion thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Lance LaSalle, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "Lorraine Drexel", written and produced by Tim Finn.

    Lorraine Drexel

    Lorraine Drexel
    You were laughing down the phone
    Your sonic sculpture
    was an outrage in scratched chrome
    Lorraine Drexel

    Lorraine Drexel
    The town rejected you en masse
    And now it's growing,
    oozing music that's old and crass
    We had to store our garden,
    now it's pushing through our house

    Lorraine Drexel
    If you wanted us to sweat,
    You'd been successful
    We fell into the trap you set
    You said we'd grow to like it
    IN your blue crepe dishy dress
    Lorraine Drexel

    Sound and quantum was its name
    The jagged structure on three legs
    With a single row of sonic chords
    Emitting sharp metallic roars
    Lorraine Drexel

    Lorraine Drexel
    I feel it pumping
    Full of dissonance and spite
    Revenge a dish best eaten cold
    Are you watching from afar?

    Every new eruption
    Bears the stamp of Drexel's savage art
    A jinx you set in motion
    Making sure you had the last laugh

    Lorraine Drexel
    A fiftey feet
    We'll melt it down
    And hope the dregs will
    Disappear into the ground
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  2. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    This song feels like it's had more work put into it than the others, and I think it's got the best lyrics and also the most interesting instrumental backing track of all -- certainly more crafted than yesterday's song, which was cute and humorous but also pretty clearly a little tossed off.

    Of course, I'm not sure what the lyrics are about: if nothing else these songs are a good advertisement for the book. And ultimately because of the fact that I'm not familiar iwth the book and don't quite get what he's singing about, it doesn't move me like it would if I had read it. Still I'd say this was the best of all of them.


    I won't be holding up these songs together but I very much enjoy this oddball, little project and I have listened to it now and again since it's release over a year ago. I feel like it's an unrealized, probably abandoned, project and it titillates me and makes me wonder just how many songs he has on his hard drive: I know in2018 he mentioned that he'd written songs for musicals years ago that are still waiting for the writer to write the book. I hope that he will continue to dribble out stuff like this every few years.

    Tomorrow we'll start on Dreamers Are Waiting. There will be no "extra album tracks"for that.
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  3. drewrclv9

    drewrclv9 Forum Resident

    Metro Detroit, MI
    Yeah this seems to be the most cohesive song of the bunch. It’s really fleshed out and has a nicely organic arrangement and melody. It has a Blackstar era Bowie vibe to it, especially in the layered vocals. More quiet than most of that album, but still reminds me of it. It also reminds me Tim’s song “Shiver”; maybe like a dark, alternate universe version of that.

    These tracks are surprisingly nice, honestly. I’m not a huge fan of obscure avant-pop like this, but I think it’s a very nice collection of music. I’ll be honest, lyrically I barely paid attention because it’s all so off the wall. Obviously it has context through the book, though. Nice tracks overall and I agree, Lance, that hopefully Tim continues to put creative stuff like this out for a few more years.

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  4. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Tomorrow we'll start on Dreamers Are Waiting.

    Released only in June, 2021, no one will need a reminder of its backstory. But, briefly (edit: or not so briefly):

    In 2019, Neil, along with Mike Campbell of TomPetty's Heartbreakers. was invited to join Fleetwood Mac, a band of old, ex drug-addicted uber-bitches who pretty much had been at each other's throats for the better part of 50 years, the legendary and storied band who'd been making music for over fifty years and whose line ups had often resulted in a complete transformation of their sound. After apologizing to Mike Campbell and Stevie Nicks for all the nasty things that were said about them on the Enzology broadcasts :)D) Neil joined, taking the place of main musical force Lindsay Buckingham, who promptly had a heart attack. Neil was motivated primarily by his friendship with Mick Fleetwood, who he'd first met in 2016 at the ARIA awards or something -- well, his friendship with Fleetwood and the promise of a cool 12 million dollars for the tour.

    Anyway, Liam and Neil's tour was ditched and Neil toured the world with the Mac. In the process, Neil deconstructed Buckingham's songs and found inspiration in them.

    At some point, presumably before he joined the Mac, he played a gig with Liam and Elroy with Mitchell Froom, his old musical mentor and producer, and Nick Seymour in Australia and felt that the five man combination was a good one that got his creative juices flowing.

    The big scale of the Fleetwood Mac tour whetted Neil's appetite to tour in a bigger style than he could hope for as a solo act. And so Neil decided to dust off the Crowded House name :he had previously describe the band as being "up on blocks."

    Having found sessions in 2016 with Mark Matt and Nick unfertile and uninspiring, and eager to record with his sons, Nick and Mitchell, he decided to let Matt and Mark go, and the new Crowded House would consist of himself, his sons, plus Nick and Mitchell, this time as a full-fledged member rather than as a producer.

    Liam, Elroy and Mitchell were living in LA, so Neil bought a humble cottage in the hills to be near them, Nick flew out from Ireland, and the band began recording demos there, at Valentine Studios.

    In fact, they were so excited by the demos that many of these tracks became the actual basic tracks of the album. They began recording overdubs and more tracks at United Recording, which had formerly been called Ocean Way, where much of Woodface had been recorded; and before that it was Western Studios where Phil Spector and Brian Wilson cut many of their legendary records in the sixties.

    It all looked like it was coming together remarkably quickly; festivals were booked, a tour was planned. My wife and I bought each other tickets to see the new Crowded House in Berlin and made plans to stay there....and then....something happened.

    There is a little-known but iron-clad and incontrovertible law of the universe. This law states, unequivocably and in no uncertain terms that no Neil Finn project will be recorded in a straighforward, quick, easy and timely fashion.

    Perhaps if that ever were to happen, the universe would simply explode.

    The fate of us all was hanging in the balance.

    God, or some other guardian spirit of the universe, seeing what was happening, decided to take matters into his/her/their own hand, and created a virus which he/she/they placed in a bat which, naturally, someone caught, made into a savory stew and ate.

    The virus became a communicable disease that swept over the planet (Earth) in late 2019 and 2020 and thus halted production on the album.

    Nick, having recorded most of his bass parts already was back in Ireland. Neil, Mitchell and the Finn Brothers Version 2.0 holed up in their homes in LA, going for walks in the sunny hills, playing Prince covers online, etc. as did we all.

    Meanwhile, they continued to record self-recorded overdubs in their homes for the new album and just emailed them to each other. At some point Neil and the boys split for New Zealand, where there was basically no Coronavirus and everyone was at cafes laughing, and drinking coffee and getting drunk at bars and eating out and stuff.

    Eventually, Nick and Mitchell were smuggled into the country where they put the finishing touches on the record, and began rehearsing for the big tour Neil had dreamed of: only confined to New Zealand.

    At that point, Crowded House were literally the biggest band on earth.

    The album was finally released on June 4th, 2021, to pretty much universally good reviews (no idea if Christgau liked this one). It charted in several countries, going Top Ten in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.

    There were no individual song credits (which, frankly, always makes me suspicious with this band): But the overall credits read:

    The tracklist was:
    1. Bad Times Good (Neil Finn,LIam Finn , Elroy Finn, Nick Seymour)
    2. Playing With Fire (N. Finn, L. Finn, E. Finn, Seymour, Mitchell Froom)
    3. To The Island (N. Finn)
    4. Sweet Tooth (N. Finn)
    5. Whatever You Want (N. Finn)
    6. Show Me The Way (N. Finn)
    7. Goodnight Everyone (L. Finn)
    8. Too Good for This World (N. Finn, Tim Finn)
    9. Start of Something (L. Finn, N. Finn)
    10. Real Life Woman (N. Finn)
    11. Love Isn't Hard At all (E.Finn, N. Finn)
    12. Deeper Down (N. Finn)
    There will be no extra album tracks wiht this one, though I may highlight a few alternate mixes of the singles.

    So then, on the 24th of September: my brother's AND Liam's birthday, I think, we will begin on The Collected Works of Harper Finn 2018-2021.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2021
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  5. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    Lorraine Drexel

    I'm sort of pleased that this segment is over. I'm not sure how I would receive a full album of these.

    It is interesting that Tim tried something radically different from what he has done before, and it's good to see that others like these songs and are rating them in the 4s. But, these songs and productions are not for me.

    There is a song here, but I don't find the melody engrossing. Tim's singing is really disappointing to hear - perhaps because he's going for some lower notes that he may not ever have had.

    The electric guitar sound (presumably) played on a keyboard is interesting, but I find the song as a whole a bit disappointing. It's not something I really want to listen to again.

  6. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Lorraine Drexel - I agree that this is probably the most complete track of the Vermillion Sands songs. The lyrics are again, intriguing. I really must track down the book... (which seems to be out of print). The synth-y sounds in the background are cool and adds to the general atmosphere of sonic weirdness that the lyrics allude to.

    I don't know that the whole suite of songs is an "easy" listen. For one, Tim's vocals are painful at times and I've never really been a fan of spoken word songs. It's interesting that @HitAndRun brought up the low notes in the vocals. I, too, think that these are notes that aren't really accessible to Tim and for these are the main source of my citing the painful listen of the vocals.

    Still, Lorraine Drexel, is pretty good
  7. jcr64

    jcr64 Forum Resident

    "Lorraine Drexel" is a good song to end this run with. It seems less gothic than some of the others, but the lyrics are still disturbing. As with other songs, the melody isn't particularly compelling, but it's certainly serviceable, and I actually find it somewhat interesting to hear Tim push his voice to its deepest point. This isn't something we hear a lot--we hear singers reach for their highest notes quite often, but few try to extend the lower range. Probably because doing so produces some unpleasantly harsh sounds (my own lowest note is very unpleasant if I try to sing it with any volume). But the harshness kind of works herewith the overall theme and tone of the songs; it's an interesting choice.


    These songs are only partly successful, because I think they try to cram too much into some fairly short songs. I'd kind of like to read the stories (or at least a couple of them), to get a sense of the fuller tales. This nevertheless has been an interesting exploration of some of Tim's more obscure recorded work, and if it's distressing to hear just how damaged his voice has become, it's also satisfying to hear him continuing to stretch his songwriting muscles.
  8. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    It's been really interesting to hear the "Vermillion Sands" tracks and this side of Tim's creativity. "Lorraine Drexel" has a kind of restrained menace to it, a sense of spookiness. I think Tim's low and very rough register adds even more dark flavour to the already nightmare-ish lyrics.
    Again, this track makes me want to seek out the book. Perhaps it could be re-issued as a book + CD edition. I have a couple of such books which come with a soundtrack enclosed on the inner sleeve and I think these Tim tracks would work best if a listener can read the book at the same time.
  9. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    While I could not bear to listen to the Vermilion Sands tracks, mostly due to Tim’s voice, I love the new FinnManz songs, with the same voice. :shrug:
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  10. This last one is going out on a high note, in that it actually sounds like a Tim Finn song to me. Luckily we're doing one of these a day, because if it were a matter of listening through all the songs to get to this one last, I'd never have made it.

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  11. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    That’s what I did. I listened to them all in a row, one time, and couldn’t bear it. I like to get thoroughly familiar with songs we discuss here, listening to them lots of times before I talk about them, if possible. My first impression is rarely my last impression. But I just couldn’t do it with this set of songs.
  12. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "Lorraine Drexel"
    Average: 3.6571
  13. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "Bad Times Good", written by Neil Finn, Liam Finn, Elroy Finn and Nick Seymour. Produced by Crowded House.


    As has been the case since 1998, Dreamers Are Waiting was released on EMI globally, except for the USA, where it was released on BMG. So I'll link to another video below, in case the official one I see isn't available over there.

    Neil Finn: lead vocal, guitar
    Liam Finn: guitar, harmony vocal
    Mitchell Froom: keyboards
    Nick Seymour: bass, backing vocal
    Elroy Finn: drums, backing vocal

    Note: earlier this year, i heard an interview with Mitchell Froom in which he said he saw the four songwriters playing an early version of this as a jam and that he thought it was "nice" but was actually surprised to find later that it had later been worked up into an actual song.
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  14. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

  15. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    Bad Times Good

    This is a nice, if unremarkable song. The intro guitar part, which then continues on throughout the song, has a breezy island vibe to it. If you erased Neil’s lead vocal, I can imagine instrumental music like this (with the background vocals kept in) playing as I sit by the pool at a posh resort sipping on a tropical drink. Neil’s voice sounds very good here. The lyrics don’t particularly speak to me.


    I agree with Mitchell, and unfortunately this is how I feel about almost every song on this album. They’re nice, but so insubstantial that they’re mostly like pleasant background music to me. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but I expected more.
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  16. drewrclv9

    drewrclv9 Forum Resident

    Metro Detroit, MI
    Well here we are; the new Crowded House album. I find this to be a wonderful opener with a great acoustic guitar loop and wonderful guitar in general. This song sounds distinctly Crowded House to me in its melodies, specifically during the fantastic middle 8. It’s not necessarily something that sounds like 80’s CH, but more something that could have existed on a proverbial Crowded House album from like the early 2000’s or something. There are shades of both previous eras of the band here.

    I personally think this is one of the best songs on the album. It’s just a wonderfully atmospheric, somber, and texturally rich listen. I think it will stand as fairly timeless as well.

    Last edited: Sep 11, 2021
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  17. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    A very mellow start. This song is relaxing and quite pretty, like a breezy, warm spring day when everything's light green, you don't have to work and your allergies aren't bothering you too much.

    The lyrics are kind of nonsense, but they do support the general laid-back mellow tone of the music -- the backing vocals and various keyboard touches are exquisite and unusual, but manage to support the main melody and not draw too much attention: I think Nick's prominent vocal (I think htat's him, though it occurred to me that Elroy sounds rather like Nick, too) is my favorite "hook" of the song. Liam harmonises effortlessly with Neil and his rapid little guitar figures are something new to the Crowded House sound.

    This is a very different Crowded House that the Crowded House of intriguer: gone are the almost "New wave prog" (if that's a thing) art rock flavors of Mark Hart and we are back to the tightly reined in, densely packed arrangements that are typical of the Froom/Finn partnership. I will probably be focusing a lot on the vocal harmonies as we go through this: they are the most complex, most developed and beautiful harmonies of Neil's career, I think -- and they sound well executed, but often very poorly recorded and the mastering makes them sound really bad, more often than not.

    I think that earlier in their relationship, Neil probably didn't write songs from jams as often as he does nowadays, so I can understand Froom's surprise, but this is a deceptively complicated little song in an odd time signature that still manages not to sound too egg-heady and annoying.

    Definitely a nice song, like most of the songs on this album.

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  18. ToneM

    ToneM Forum Resident

    Birmingham, UK
    Bad Times Good

    Dreamers gets off to a mellow start with this languid number. Its roots as a jam are clear, with the band noodling around in a laid back fashion, until it slowly builds into a quietly affecting piece. Some of the jumbled lyrics seem specific enough to represent memories for Neil, but for the rest of us there's nothing much to hang onto but gibberish.

    The instrumentation has hidden depth and lovely touches that reveal themselves on repeated listens. However the song only really springs to life in the arresting bridge which is classic Neil. The rest is pleasantly warming if run of the mill, like a soak in a warm bath.

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  19. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    Bad Times Good

    This is a very interesting and nice song. It may not be the best choice for an opener, but it is a subtly beautiful song.

    The time signature is interesting. It starts in what I think is 5/4, before going into 3/4 sections. So, even if it's short, it's quite 'prog' in that way. However, it sounds natural - the mixture of time signatures including the rarer 5/4 doesn't sound forced to me.

    The parts of the arrangement including the acoustic guitar, the electrics, and so on, all come together to make a very nice arrangement. Everyone seems to do their own bit very well.

    The lyrics are more impressionistic, rather than telling a story. But, I like that.

    Neil sings it really well. A bit of a relief after the Vermillion Sands songs.

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  20. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Collated Ratings for Elroy

    1. The Whole Thing 3.2727
    2. Worth The Wait 3.4
    3. Lost Our Mystery 3
    4. The Highest Tree 2.7556
    5. Frogs 3.205
    6. Excite Me Much 3.6889
    7. Life Is At Home 2.6125
    8. Way Down Above Below 2.7625
    9. Doesn't It Bother You? 2.6556
    10. Bye For Now 2.5
    Elroy 2.6444
    Average by song: 2.98528
    • Pablo Vasquez 3.1813
    Vermillion Sands

    • Hope Canard 3.5
    • Leonora Chanel 3.4347
    • Jane Cylacilides 3.4745
    • RAine Channing 3.2429
    • Aurora Day 3.2563
    • Gloria Tremayne 2.8143
    • Lorraine Drexel 3.6571
    Average by song: 3.3399
  21. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    Bad Times Good - A real mellow beginning to the album. I really like the opening guitar loop that really holds the songs together and how there is this build of complexity as they layer in other guitar, keyboards and the vocal harmonies. I'm with @Lance LaSalle on this, the vocal harmonies on this album are terrific, and Neil in particular is terrific. And while I'm in an agreeable mood, I'll also concur with @drewrclv9 that this DOES sound like a Crowded House song to me - not a facsimile of their previous work, but like a blending of various eras. Can't put my finger on it, but it just IS.

    I'd agree that this isn't the most memorable song - there's no obvious "hook" here unless I count the guitar loop but it is a very charming, and subtly complex song (maybe it's the slide from 5/4 to 3.4 that makes it so interesting). Since I hardly ever are bothered by the actual lyrics of any Neil song, the impressionistic value of the lyrics works for me.

    I think this is a bit of a grower for me - I've liked it from the moment I heard it, and even though I can't always recall it in detail I'm delighted to hear it each time.

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  22. KangaMom

    KangaMom Queen of the Quokkas

    By the way Lance, this version appeared just fine in the US...
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  23. Michael Rofkar

    Michael Rofkar Forum Resident

    Santa Rosa, CA
    I have held off buying the album because I've been disappointed with Neil's output since, and pretty much including, Try Whistling This, and wanted to hear the tracks here first.

    "Bad Time Good" is a poor choice for the opener - odd time signature, no discernible drum beat, meandering melody, and nonsensical lyrics. Nothing very interesting here, and that looping guitar riff gets annoying. 2/5
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  24. therunner

    therunner Forum Resident

    "Bad Times Good" is nicely mellow and inoffensive, but nothing special or memorable either. There is no major hook to hold onto, and the repeated guitar melody gets a bit monotonous by the end. The highlights are the Neil/Liam harmonies, and the middle-8 which adds a welcome breath of life to the overall languidness.

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  25. BeSteVenn

    BeSteVenn little-known member

    I think Bad Times Good is a very good song, but to me it might not be the best way to open the inaugural Finn Family/Crowded House album, unless they wanted to be be right in our faces with the influence of Liam and Elroy on the new "sound". It's not a song that I think "ooh, I want to hear Bad Times Good, I think I'll put on Dreamers Are Waiting, so I've moved it to further into the album in my iTunes playlist of the album.

    It sounds to me like it shares another late 70s Godley and Creme song as a foundation (I Pity Inanimate Objects) but with a very, very different song built up on top of it. It could be the time signature, I don't have the mental energy right now to delve deeper into that.

    All in all, I like it a lot. 4.4/5
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