Written By: Victor Alfieri
Label: Incurable Eclectic – Rating:
Whenever you pick up something new, or see it for the first time, your mind immediately goes into it’s databank to classify this new thing by comparing it to all other things it has seen. We all do it. “That guys sounds like…” That movie was just like…” “That car is a combination of…” Upon listening to Ken Flagg’s The End of Suffering my mind needed to come up with an “other” category.
Where musicians like Beck re-invent themselves and their “sound” with every album, Flagg does so with every track on this album. From heavy hitters like “Mountain Girl” to songs with full orchestration like “Brightest Day” or bossa nova pieces like “When the Sun Sets in the Eastern Sky,” the “Sound” never truly settles. Yet, none of it seems out of place. One would guess that Ken Flagg has worked hard at separating himself from the pack, and that hard work has paid off.
Originally from Long Island, New York, Flagg now makes San Francisco his home. This is his second release, from Incurable Eclectic Records and a very ambitious one. He used over 50 musicians and what sounds like full string and horn sections in both “Brightest Day” and “Blinded.” There’s a battle between the horns and a choir on “Suffering” as well.
The core of this band consists of Flagg (vocals, piano, synth, guitar), Matt Heulitt (guitar), Paul Eastburn (Bass) & Chris Brague (drums). This follow-up to Paralysis & Denial continues to build a strong reputation of musicianship, song arrangements and the ability to blend styles seamlessly.
Flagg lists such bands as The Beatles, Radiohead, ELO & The Beach Boys as musical inspirations. When digging through each of these songs, you can pick them out, especially the ELO-inspired “Accelerator.” You also get the distinct impression that he has a selection of 80’s new wave, such as Depeche Mode and New Order in his CD collection. The lyrics tend to move around as much as the music; from the emotional (“Pieces”) to the whimsical (“Funeral”).
The End of Suffering comes very early on this album. It is truly an enjoyable listen and a wonderful new addition to my Ipod.