Listen: Richard Hawley – “Coles Corner” [2005]

In the last week I’ve been strangely obsessed with listening to albums from 2005. I think it was spurred by a craving for Broken Social Scene’s self-titled record from that year, which led me to looking back at Pitchfork’s Best Albums list along with a few other publications, and realizing that 2005 was a strange, disjointed year for indie albums. There are a few ultimate classics, like IllinoisPinkTender ButtonsSilent Alarm and more, but plenty that have been lost to the sands of time, forgotten or pushed out of the main discourse of essential albums of the 00s.

As someone who is quite enamored with the 00s (I know, something is wrong with me), I felt compelled to check out a few albums I had never heard before from 2005 alongside the staples. I haven’t gotten very far though, because I’ve been stuck listening to Richard Hawley’s Coles Corner over and over. Released on Mute, the album was clearly well-received in the year it was released, as many friends who were plugged in at the time replied back saying how much they loved the LP, one even saying that Hawley was his favorite musician from 2005-2010. I haven’t seen much mention of it these days in the main nostalgia wagon ride through the corn maze of 00s classics though. However, I think with the general music-listening populace’s gradual reclamation of country, sophistipop and balladry, Coles Corner should be a shoo-in for a revival.

Not to make a Frankenstein’s Monster of comparisons, but think of a beautiful mash of classic balladic country (I truthfully haven’t listened to enough to really pick out one artist from the genre), Scott Walker and The Blue Nile. It’s unpretentious but lavish, able to switch between lush, string-filled and twinkling climaxes and candle-lit lamentations from past 4am. I’ve been listening as I’ve gone out walking at night and the title track really pulls the wistful and crushing emotions out of me, with Hawley singing about “cold city lights blowing, the traffic of life flowing” – my favorite thing. Gentle introspection mixed with harmless voyeuristic observation of the world passing by, taking note of the small singularities and routines going on around us at all times. Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I’ve also been mainlining Yo La Tengo, so the low-key nature of their music here has definitely tenderized me to really make a home in Coles Corner. There are so many elements at play here and thanks to the already-retro sound of the music, it makes it feel timeless. This album could have come out last year or in 1970. Don’t skip this one y’all – I’ll have more 2005 recs for you soon enough.

About Very Warm

Usually cool dude stuff.
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