released Feb 16th, 2010

from the album - Black Smoke

YouTube - Tindersticks "Black Smoke" (official video)

from all music

Tindersticks were one of the most original and distinctive British acts of the '90s, standing apart from both the British indie scene and the rash of Brit-pop guitar combos that dominated the U.K. charts. Where their contemporaries were often direct and to the point, Tindersticks were obtuse and leisurely, crafting dense, difficult songs layered with literary lyrics, intertwining melodies, mumbling vocals, and gently melancholy orchestrations. Essentially, the group filtered the dark romanticism of Leonard Cohen, Ian Curtis, and Scott Walker as filtered through the bizarre pop songcraft of Lee Hazlewood and the aesthetics of indie rock. Though their music was far from casual listening, Tindersticks gained a dedicated cult following in the mid-'90s, beginning with their eponymous 1993 debut album, which was named Album of the Year by Melody Maker.

The origins of Tindersticks lay in Asphalt Ribbons, a Nottingham-based indie rock band that featured vocalist Stuart Staples, keyboardist David Boulter, and violinist Dickon Hinchcliffe. All three members formed Tindersticks in 1992; the remaining members included guitarist Neil Fraser, bassist Mark Colwill, and drummer Al Macaulay. In November of 1992, the band released its first single, "Patchwork," on its own label, Tippy Toe. "Marbles" followed early in 1993, as did "A Marriage Made in Heaven," a collaboration with Huggy Bear's Niki Sin that appeared on Rough Trade's Singles Club. Following the release of the Unwired EP on Tippy Toe, the fledgling This Way Up signed the band.

Tindersticks' eponymous debut appeared halfway through 1993, earning rave reviews from most sections of the British press. By the end of the year, the group and the album had won over most of the U.K. critics, and Tindersticks was named Album of the Year by Melody Maker. Tindersticks spent a quiet year in 1994, releasing a single of John Barry's James Bond theme "We Have All the Time in the World" (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), a live album entitled Amsterdam, and a cover of Pavement's "Here." Also that year, Tindersticks was released on Bar/None in the U.S. In the spring of 1995, the group released its untitled second album, which featured cameos from Gallon Drunk's Terry Edwards and the Walkabouts' Carla Torgerson. Like its predecessor, it received rave reviews and appeared on nearly every British Top Ten list of the Best of 1995. In November of 1995, the group released another live album, Bloomsbury Theatre.

Tindersticks were quiet for most of 1996, releasing the soundtrack to the Claire Denis film Nénette et Boni in the fall of the year. The album was comprised of old songs, new songs, and rearranged older material. A new version of "A Marriage Made in Heaven," featuring vocals from actress Isabella Rossellini, was released a few months after Nénette et Boni; the single was later appended to the American release of 1997's Curtains. Their fourth effort, Simple Pleasure (1999), marked the band's most open-hearted release since their inception. A new deal with Beggars Banquet surfaced at the dawn of the new millennium, and a replenished unity within the band was found on 2001's Can Our Love.... Later that year, Tindersticks provided the soundtrack to another Claire Denis film, Trouble Every Day. The proper follow-up to Can Our Love..., Waiting for the Moon, was released in mid-2003.

In 2005, Staples embarked on a solo project (fueling rumors of a split) and went on to produce two albums. The rumors proved to be partially true as Hinchcliffe, Colwill, and drummer Macaulay left the group in 2006. The remaining Tindersticks (Staples, Fraser and Boulter) were joined by long-time associate Terry Edwards and a host of musicians in their return to the studio in 2007. The resulting album, The Hungry Saw, was released in 2008, followed two years later by Falling Down a Mountain. The latter album introduced another revised lineup, this one featuring Earl Harvin on drums, and David Kitt on guitar.

album review

After eighteen years, they still soldier on... After a somewhat revised version of Tindersticks broke their five-year recording silence with 1998's The Hungry Saw, it took less than two years for the group (again with a few modifications to the lineup) to compound that successful return with another new album -- their eighth overall -- which stands as perhaps even more of an achievement and pleasant surprise than its very fine predecessor. While Saw offered a few rare glimmers of positivity and sweetness from Stuart Staples and company, it was essentially business as usual for the perennially moody Britons. Falling Down a Mountain isn't exactly a major reinvention, either, but it does back up the golden-hued sky gracing its cover with some of their most upbeat and optimistic songs to date (keep in mind those are relative terms), and a liberal extension of the looseness they've been gradually settling into since 1999's Simple Pleasure. The six-and-a-half minute title track is immediately striking, with its simmering, asymmetrical, jazzy groove buoying a hypnotically simple vocal riff and some uninhibited soloing from trumpeter Terry Edwards. "Harmony Around My Table" is a bouncy soul-pop number that might hardly be recognizable as Tindersticks if not for Staples' inimitable quavering baritone (as always, an acquired taste, like fine wine), while the low-key lovers' duet "Peanuts" sports a charmingly simple, slightly silly lyric, and the twinkling ballad "Keep You Beautiful," though a typically mellow affair, is uncharacteristically, almost achingly sweet. Elsewhere, the album takes on a vaguely Western tinge (again echoing the dusty cover landscape), with the galloping, lustful "She Rode Me Down," Edwards' lonesome flügelhorn on the Morricone-esque instrumental "Hubbard Hills," and the gritty, downright driving "Black Smoke." Eventually -- this being Tindersticks, after all -- the darkness does creep in: the deceptively buoyant "No Place So Alone" seethes with the jealousy of a jilted lover, and by the penultimate "Factory Girls," we find Staples brooding alone, doused in melancholy, feebly asserting that "it's the wine that makes me sad, not the love I never had." It's a typically mournful, typically lovely Tindersticks moment, made all the more exquisite here in contrast to the increased stylistic range that came before it. Sometimes, it just takes a slight change in scenery to help you appreciate what you've always had.

Track Listing

1."Falling Down A Mountain" - 6:33
2."Keep You Beautiful" - 3:23
3."Harmony Around My Table" - 5:06
4."Peanuts" - 4:37
5."She Rode Me Down" - 3:18
6."Hubbards Hills" - 3:04
7."Black Smoke" - 3:43
8."No Place So Alone" - 3:12
9."Factory Girls" - 5:55
10."Piano Music" - 5:46