In the time that’s elapsed since his last solo record, Mark Lanegan has been busy. He’s collaborated with Isobel Campbell, joined Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins, guested on albums by Queens of the Stone Age, Twilight Singers and UNKLE, and sang most of the tracks on the last two Soulsavers LPs. In fact, he’s never stopped since he began in his first band, seminal Northwest “grunge” rockers Screaming Trees (though if you were a fan, you’d never call them grunge!). Seven albums with the Trees, and now on his seventh solo studio album — you can hardly begrudge him the seven years between!
On first listen to 2012’s Blues Funeral (out February 7th on 4AD), fans will notice that Mark Lanegan has expanded his familiar sound. There’s no hiding that raw, smoky voice, but musically the album stretches out further than 2004’s Bubblegum. Familiar dark bluesy rockers like “Bleeding Muddy Water” are counterpointed with sweeping electronics-heavy numbers like “Ode To Sad Disco.” Here, thumping drum machines and keyboard washes are just as likely to be found as scorching guitars. Thematically, though, the album is unwaveringly dark, as you’d expect from titles like “Phantasmagoria Blues,” “Gray Goes Black,” and “The Gravedigger’s Song.” Through it all, Lanegan is joined by some familiar friends: Dulli, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Jack Irons, Porno for Pyros’ Martyn LeNoble, QOTSA’s Josh Homme, and Eleven guitarist and producer Alain Johannes. Together they create a magical concoction, and if it’s said that the entire genre of the blues has actually died, through Mark Lanegan Band and Blues Funeral they’re positively reborn.
KEXP is excited to offer this exclusive preview to the forthcoming album. Whether you’ve been following Mark Lanegan for decades or are now just discovering the Ellensburg, Washington-bred songwriter (and we envy those of you hearing him for the first time), give a listen to this dark yet diverse album, easily one of the best of the year so far. And stay tuned for an interview with Mark Lanegan coming up in the next few weeks, only on KEXP!