N.B.: Summer is the perfect season to announce a very limited-edition, deluxe repressing of Hiss Golden Messenger's Poor Moon LP (2011, PoB-02). Like the original pressing, it features a beautiful tip-on jacket with illustrations by Alex Jako, and like both prior editions, it includes an edition number to differentiate it from the other pressings, a digital download coupon, and a new LP label color.
This record is a sentimental favorite for many folks, including us--it was our second release as a label and our first with HGM--and each new edition moves quickly, so we recommend ordering now.
For its first foray into contemporary music, Paradise of Bachelors is proud to present "Poor Moon," the greatest Hiss Golden Messenger album to date.
Composed and arranged by Head Messenger M.C. Taylor at his home in the rural Piedmont mill town of Pittsboro and recorded with longtime collaborator Scott Hirsch in New York, California and North Carolina, "Poor Moon" offers a moving culmination of the spiritually-charged song cycle commenced on last year’s critically acclaimed "Bad Debt" album. Treading a red-clay road between "Bad Debt" and "Country Hai East Cotton" in sound and sentiment, it is the first fully electric ensemble recording since the highly limited HGM live release "Root Work" in 2010.
Featuring contributions from Terry Lonergan, Nathan Bowles (Black Twig Pickers; Pelt), Hans Chew (D. Charles Speer & the Helix), Matt Cunitz (Brightblack Morning Light), Tom Heyman (The Court & Spark), and others, "Poor Moon" represents both an elaboration and inversion of previous Hiss Golden Messenger efforts, proposing an America at perpetual sundown, wracked by devotion, wrecked by celebration. Named in homage to the Canned Heat track penned by the immortal Blind Owl, "Poor Moon" conjures the unsteady experience of soul at home in the wild, and it stands as a captivating document of Southern songcraft.
On November 1, 2011, this autumnal album of twelve songs was released in a limited, hand-numbered edition of 500 copies, pressed on 150-gram virgin vinyl, packaged in tip-on sleeves with drawings by visual artist Alex Jako, and including digital download coupons. This edition has sold out, and is now available in subsequent editions, each limited to 500.
“Poor Moon is a fantastic, on-repeat record that recalls the aesthetic risks and rewards of the best stuff produced by Laurel Canyon’s singer-songwriters and, decades later, the stylistically daring musicians associated with New Weird America. Hiss Golden Messenger pairs an instant accessibility with careful complexity [on these] 13 tracks of skewed, country-soul greatness.”
-Grayson Currin, Pitchfork (7.8)
“A small but grand statement, achieving country-soul greatness… Poor Moon is a beautiful, accomplished record… ‘A Working Man Can’t Make It No Way’ deserves to be covered by Merle Haggard… Poor Moon is gospel, played with blue notes. It is the sound of a sweet soul contemplating deliverance; as mellow and fierce and fearful as that.”
–Alastair McKay, Uncut (4 stars)
“Poor Moon is the sound of Taylor, joined by his long-time co-writer and arranger Scott Hirsch, corralling a mighty and potentially messy herd of, in the words of Tony Joe White, “elements and things” — musical and textual; popular and folkloric; sacred and secular and pretty well goddamned — into a folk-rock masterpiece that reveals itself both in short bursts and over long arcs, realized both minutely and effortlessly. Needless to say, it sounds as good, as vital, and as essential today as it did when it first reached me last summer. Hiss Golden Messenger is now the morning-line favorite for 2012, and thus a shoe-in for hitting my Other Music best-of trifecta.”
-Nathan Salsburg, Other Music
“While a great deal of what’s on offer today is as deep as a paper cut, there are beautiful, thorny exceptions, music that pricks us and reminds us of our humanity and potential transcendence. North Carolina-based-former-S.F.-area ontologically charged roots rockers Hiss Golden Messenger till green, fragrant ground, the smell of overturned earth redolent of decay and life in all its tendril throwing glory rising from their work… This band shuffles with archetypes and grasps at the sky in the hopes some higher power high-fives them somewhere along their weary road. It is workingman’s music that melds elements of Merle Haggard with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Rev. Gary Davis, where songs pulled from usually hidden places serve as the listener’s companions into their own craggy, shadowy reaches. By turns worshipful and wary, Hiss Golden Messenger is bread for incarnation and transubstantiation, feeding the body in the here and now while simultaneously nourishing less obvious appetites in one’s soul. It also happens to be great music sung in Taylor’s lovely, almost-too-honest voice, a dirt field relative to Sam Cooke and the Jerry Garcia who sang ballads that make one feel split open. The music is an evolving blur of folk, country, blues and the outside-the-mainstream work of pioneers like Roy Harper, Bert Jansch and John Martyn.”
–Dennis Cook, Dirty Impound
“Poor Moon, the most fully developed album yet by indie rock veteran and new Durham resident M.C. Taylor, might be strong enough to reclaim [Americana], that noun of convenience. This is, at least, pan-American music, gracefully shading a bedrock of refined songcraft with touches of soul, funk, bluegrass, classic rock and ancient country. Taylor delivers arrangements that are alternately pretty as a Southern daybreak and threatening as a late summer thunderstorm rolling across the horizon. None of these flourishes seems intentional or forced; they simply seem like the output of lifelong synthesis. And on Poor Moon, Taylor takes nothing for granted, evaluating his career, God, sobriety and sanity with an absolute rebelliousness of spirit. Too young to be told and too wise to be foolish, Taylor writes, sings and records from a place of great wonder, as if these old sounds and these proverbial thoughts are new. For these perfect 45 minutes, they certainly feel that way.”
–Grayson Currin, The Independent Weekly (rated #1 album of 2011)
“Poor Moon represents a personal, very expansive view of America and Americana music, alternately recalling Dylan, Hank Williams and any back-porch pickup band, yet the superlatively breezy country-rock vibe conceals bleak implications about morality, fatherhood, and country. Taylor sees a darkness, and to his considerable credit, he never flinches.”
–Stephen Deusner, Salon.com
, “The Most Underrated Albums of 2011″
“…Blends the tried-and-true methods of home-grown bluegrass with the catchiness of contemporary indie folk… Showcases [an] understanding of the folk tradition as history that lives, grows and moves its audience in deep, unpredictable ways.”
–NPR, World Café Next
“RECOMMENDED. Some of the most accomplished country-rock I’ve heard in some time is on this record. HGM frontman M.C. Taylor is versatile enough to be able to project both weathered ballads and soulful crooning, right at the lip of “hot country” tropes, as well as your country royalty (Hank, George, Townes, etc.) but mostly passionate-sounding, his laconic demeanor positioned well in a five-piece rock combo, with plenty of soul, and an understated hand that brings out the best in his songs. It’s not hard to see this guy playing the lothario in some roadhouse, with secrets he keeps tucked in his denim jacket. There are a number of guys in this vein right now (D. Charles Speer and Zachary Cale comes to mind, albeit from slightly more specific directions), and Taylor and co. are among the best. For fans of the genre, this can’t be beat. 500 numbered copies.”
–Doug Mosurock, Dusted/Still Single
“These are melodies and stories straight out of the same Appalachian hills that gave birth to Gaither Carlton and Clarence Ashley. Find me something more American than that.”
“Mystical country. An eerie yellowing photograph.”
“…A thing of gentle charm & unmistakable cosmic American beauty. It is, for those of us who delight in the likes of Iron & Wine, our first contact with a new & wonderful songwriter.”
–The Independent (UK)