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Bishop Allen "The Monitor"

I was a little disappointed the first time I listened to the Broken String, the second time, the third time. The preview I wrote in June was after the fourth time I'd listened to it straight through. It was around the sixth time that I stopped judging the album and began to simply enjoy it (I'm actually embarrassed to be admitting this, but I do this type of intense listening with virtually all the music I post on). Recently I listened Charm School a few times again, then all of 2006's EPs in order. I don't know quite what it is that I've decided, but this is a try.

Bishop Allen's March EP included a track called the "the Monitor" about an old battleship, where Justin Rice (or his "narrator") imagines the battles fought by the ship and considers his isolation from the men at the ironworks, who work on and don't care. June's EP featured a song about the same Ironworks burning down called "The Same Fire." And neither song was really about an Ironworks.

"The Monitor" became the source of the album title the Broken String:
"It’s stunning to know I’ve survived
But I’m not sure what I’m fighting for anymore
And when I break another string
And continue to sing
Is that courage? I’m not sure."
Charm School has been described by its creators as an album about lonely insomniacs who wander around New York City at night. In interviews Justice Rice, Bishop Allen's lyricist, has talked about Charm School as having a narrator; if this is the case, then before 2006's EP series there was never a chance to really get into the narrator's head, to see the world through his eyes. Something changed in January, and I don't know what it was. If there's anything I can say for certain about the Broken String it's that its attempt to condense 12 months' worth of songs into a single album feels shallow, like skipping rocks over the surface of a deep body of water. But some of those rocks are going to sink, damn it. Christian Rudder and Justin Rice's work deserves more fans.

Bishop Allen - The Monitor (March EP)
Bishop Allen - The Same Fire (June EP)
Bishop Allen - Middle Management (The Broken String)
Buy the Broken String and 2006's EPs

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5 Responses to “Bishop Allen "The Monitor"”

  1. # Blogger Your Little Ghost Friend

    You know, I never realized that's where the album title came from. Nice!  

  2. # Blogger Kate

    yeah, I thought it was a neat piece of info to put up.  

  3. # Blogger -tom

    4,5, 6 times in a row,there's no shame in listening to music that intensely. I do the same thing. I listened to almost nothing else except the new Josh Ritter all weekend. Great disc.  

  4. # Blogger VA

    This comment has been removed by the author.  

  5. # Anonymous Anonymous

    (I'm actually embarrassed to be admitting this, but I do this type of intense listening with virtually all the music I post on).

    You shouldn't be embarrassed -- speaking as a musician sick of writers' superficial takes on music, if you are going to write about music it ought to be based on close, repeated listening.  

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