The Frames are one of those bands that i just
adore, and 2003 was a year lucky enough to be graced with three
(3) new Frames releases. Not an album mind you, but this outtakes
collection, an EP featuring some live tracks, and a live album.
I am positivley swimmin in new Frames listening, and loving
Roads Outgrown is a collection of b-sides and
rarities. It includes one live track, and a few re-worked tunes.
Some of the re-worked songs are, well, not that different really.
That is to say, this disc includes alternate versions of Lay
Me Down and Headlong, both off of their most recent
full-length, For The
Birds. Both are good tunes, but neither of these
versions really stands out as all that different. That is, i
would need to sit with both CDs and do a real comparison to
tell what is different, and quite honestly i have neither the
time nor the inclination for such geekery. I will accept The
Frames statement that these are different versions, note that
both are quality songs, and move on.
The CD also contains an alternate version of God Bless Mom
from 1999's Dance The Devil album. On their "nigh-unto
impossible to find" website
(go ahead -- do a Google
search for "frames" -- i dare ya!), there was discussion of
a controversy regarding this song. Someone in the band claimed
that the label released a version of this song that the band
was unhappy with, instead of what they called "the one, true
version" of the song. I am guessing that this is that "one,
true version". It features a good deal more falsetto than the
regular version, and more violin work. The violin is welcome,
the falsetto is not. So to me, this version is a toss-up, really.
Speaking of violin work, there is some excellent violin on
the track Tomorrow's Too Long wherein violinist Colm
Mac An Iomaire really cuts loose in a way that reminds me of
Warren Ellis of The
Dirty 3. This is a very lovely, simple tune, in which the
violin stands out as lead, and the vocals, guitar, and happy
little bass riff are it's accompaniments. Aside from The Dirty
3, the violin being lead almost never happens, and i am glad
to see Mac An Iomaire get his due.
The most standout track on this disc is a cover of Will Oldham's
New Partner, a version which impressed the heck out of
Tracers back when we
saw The Frames do it live. This is a happy little tune of
vaugely mournful nature, that builds gloriously until Hansard
is singing full voice, loudly, with violin and guitar dancing
around his melody. It's glorious, even to someone like myself
who finds Will Oldham annoying. (But i think it's his voice
i don't like.) This is an amazing tune.
There are 2 tracks on here that are The Frames stripped down
to pretty much just Hansard's voice and light instrumentation.
They are Rise, which is voice with quiet guitar, and
Listen Girl, which features soulful vocals backed by
violin. The first is a decent enough folkish tune, the second
is a tragic, heart-rending love ballad.
One final note is the inclusion of the live version of Fittzcaraldo
from the Breadcrumb Trail live album (which i
have been unable to find -- not that i am bitter or anything).
This starts off with a story from Hansard, explaining a possible
origin of the song, then the band tears into it. Playing all
together like that, my god they are amazing. I have seen The
Frames twice, and adored them both times. They are one of the
funnest bands i have ever seen live, and their music is organic
and alive and wonderful. This recording captures that quite
well. However, well, i have been "converted" to their cause
through 2 concerts, so i might be biased in thinking this is
good. Lord knows i often find live albums to be boring, so maybe
this is dull to someone who does not have their own memories
to draw on. Maybe. I like it at least.
To sum up, this is an absolutely essential purchase to anyone
who is a fan of The Frames. And by all rights, you all should
be fans, so go out and find this!
However, if you are new to The Frames, well, this is a pretty
good starting point in that it shows the diversity that they
are capable of. This is a little mellower than their albums,
especially the rocking Dance the Devil, but it
is still high quality and quite moving.