Sackville released two full length albums. This was the first. They’d added a second guitar which gave their songs a bit more texture. But they still had a kind of gritty folk music sound. I saw the term “urban country” used to describe them, which is strangely apt.
“Sydney Mines” is a slow folk song with a quiet slow guitar motif. I love the descriptive lyrics: “In the dead of winter in Sydney Mines they take their cars out on the ice.” The song is accented by a slow, scratchy violin that comes in after the first verse. But the chorus gets rocking and kind of fun/sloppy with the drums really taking over. The vocals don’t really change the laconic style but they do get noticeably louder. “Clothesline” retains that slowness although the verses have a bit more sing-song quality. And once again the chorus bursts into life with a raw violin and loud drums.
The excellent guitar riff that opens “Good Citizen” is quite a change—the song picks up speed (and the vocals sound very different–clipped and quick). It’s a great alt folk song. The chorus is lurching and interesting as well. “Upstate” has an early 1990s guitar line and pounding chords at the end of each verse. The juxtaposition of his voice with this electric song works nicely. “Tie Back Yr Hair” returns to the slow style of the earlier songs although this melody is mostly led by the violin. “Lines and Barriers” is a slow ballad, mostly guitar—it reminds me of Syd Barrett.
“The Frame-Up’ has more loud drums and quiet creaking violins. Nearly four minutes in, the violin takes over with a staccato refrain that gets the song sounding more intense. “Bender” adds a pleasant surprise with guest vocalist Genevieve Heistek taking lead vocals. The music is much the same but her voice changes the overall style of the music quite a bit. The addition of fuzzy static at the end adds an alt-rock touch. “Invisible Ink” has the prettiest violin melody yet, an unscratchy ascending melody that complements the slow guitars. And just as it seems to be another slow ballad, the 3rd minute ramps up the electric guitar and the song soars for about 20 seconds before returning to that main melody.
“Her Ghost Will One Day Rise Again” has the most country feel of the album—the violin is much more fiddle than violin and the simple melody is very catchy, but in a drunken hillbilly kind of way rather than a country song proper (which means a I like it better). On “Border Towns” he sounds the most like the lead singer from Social Distortion. This is a lurching kinda punk y song, although it’s the chorus that really has that Social D feel—a slow catchy chorus in which his delivery is uncanny. “Pioneers” ends the disc with a downbeat song with really catchy lyrics: “It’s hard to be a pioneer” in the keening voice of the 12-year-old protagonist.
Given the popularity of alt-country, Sackville was sadly ignored.
[READ: June 10, 2016] Coral Reefs
Wicks created the Human Body Theater graphic novel (also from First Second), which I absolutely loved. This book is part of First Second’s new Science Comics series, in which they take a good hard look at scientific things and present a ton of information in a fun cartoony format–easily digestible chunks with awesome pictures that convey a lot of information.
I loved the dinosaurs one for just how much new information I’d learned from it.
This book has a really inspirational forward about scuba diving which I thought was by wicks (and I wondered how she was so scholarly AND an artist), but it was actually by Randi Rotjan from the New England Aquarium (and is still inspirational).
I didn’t know a ton about coral reefs going into this book and man, is it full of information about them: how they grow and form (yes, they are animals), who lives among them and what we can do to protect them.
Compared to the human body one and the dinosaurs one, I found this book a little dry (yea, sure, pun intended). That may be because I already knew a bunch of the information in the other books, whereas the whole coral reef business was new to me. Or maybe there’s not a lot of fun you can have with reefs. Most of the humor comes in little asides (and those are all very funny).
As with the human body book this one was narrated by a cute little guy–we don’t find out what he is until much later in the book. The illustrations in this section are really cute (I love Wicks’ art).
But he starts by talking about what coral reefs are. He describes the difference between plants and animals and lets us know that corals are actually animals! We learn how corals form and what gives them their colors. She also tells us about their fragility–they can only thrive between a very limited temperature range–so global warming is a major cause of the destruction of corals.
This is bad for many reasons, the first of which is that the reefs are home to hundreds of species of animals
Chapter three is very scientific–explaining the 7 categories of classification of species of coral. And there are beautifully illustrated panels of just a few of the many different kinds of corals (over 6,000 are known). Then we meet some animals that live in the ocean: anemones, jellies, stars, mollusks (including a bit about my favorite, the cuttlefish) up to cartilaginous rays and sharks. And then on to the bony fish like our narrator, a Goby, and parrot fish, eels and seahorse.
Chapter four is the one that ties it all together and shows how we can help the reefs even if we are far away from them. This chapter is very serious but Wicks throws in a ton of little jokes to lighten it. Like that humans are roughly 60% water–so she shows a drawing of a figure with “water pants” (the bottom 60% filled with water) with the caveat that it’s not a realistic representation thankyouverymuch.
And then the book blew my mind. It talks about the water cycle with evaporation and precipitation and then gives this fact: the water on Earth exists in the same amount as when Earth was formed, and it is all the water we will ever have…that means the water you are drinking is the same water that the dinosaurs drank.
Then we learn about air and how we always assumed that plants are the only ones who take CO2 and make it oxygen (with a hilarious drawing of two daisies “eating up the SEE-OH -TOOO and fartin’ out the oxygen.” But it turns out that the main oxygen producers are microscopic ocean dwellers.
Chapter Five is a bit of downer as it shows what the effects of climate change are on the reefs. But it does offer suggestions of what we can do to help. Primarily, stop the damn polluting! Reuse and recycle and be careful of ocean habitats. It also talks of the ways we have benefited from studying aquatic animals–like how we are inspired by the skin and movement of fish and sharks and cuttlefish to make things we can use.
The end of the book has a glossary and bibliography, which is nice too.
So yes, I did enjoy this book quite a lot, it may have just been a lot to process at once. #10yearsof01.