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In Troubled Times *
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Album: In Troubled Times *
# Song Title   Time
1)    Union Song, The
2)    Antique Love
3)    Saint is Here, The
4)    Rotten In the Film Bag
5)    Famous Goodbyes
6)    John Henry
7)    Fighting the Firmament
8)    Put You To Bed
9)    Break of Day
10)    In Troubled Times
 

Album: In Troubled Times *
# Song Title   Time
1)    Union Song, The
2)    Antique Love
3)    Saint is Here, The
4)    Rotten In the Film Bag
5)    Famous Goodbyes
6)    John Henry
7)    Fighting the Firmament
8)    Put You To Bed
9)    Break of Day
10)    In Troubled Times
 
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Product Details
Performer Notes
  • In Troubled Times is the third album by Oakdale, California band Built Like Alaska, led by singer/songwriter Neil Jackson, and follows the group's second album, Autumnland, by six years. In that time, the personnel has changed (the outfit is now filled out by David Burtch, Sean Norman, and Anthany Rossi, according to the CD booklet, while a press release also adds Jacob Canada), but the troubles Jackson has in mind in the album title have more to do with the world in general than with group interactions. Specifically, it's the economic crisis of the several years leading up to the disc's release in the fall of 2011 that concern him. "Where'd my union go?," he asks at the outset in "The Union Song." And at the end, he is commiserating with Orson Welles, who famously had problems financing his ambitious film projects, querying, "Orson, was your deathbed crowded by money men with palms wide outstretched?" "In troubled times," Jackson concludes, you need guys like the wealthy Charles Foster Kane, the character Welles played in his film Citizen Kane. But the money worries are only part of the problem for Jackson, who also laments the replacement of "Antique Love" with less-satisfying "modern love," and in "John Henry" (not the old folk song of that title) wonders "Should I hang it up, should I hang my hammer up?/I've seen the worst in men let the machines win." Lest his lyrics be taken too literally, however, he warns in "Break of Day," "It's all in the way you're singing it/It's all in the connotation." So, it's worth noting that he sings it plaintively in a heavily filtered high tenor over standard-issue, walking-tempo indie rock. In its intensity and relentlessness, the music reinforces the dire message, as when "The Union Song" ends in a coda of industrial noise. Jackson and his new Built Like Alaska lineup don't offer much hope in In Troubled Times, except by the implication of their return to action and their fidelity to old values. That may have to be enough until times get better. ~ William Ruhlmann
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