Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pigeon John - Dragon Slayer

Another heavy gust of wind viciously tore at my clothing, and there was a strong possibility that the ominous darkness on the horizon was a suffocating sandstorm that would shortly overtake my position.  Indecision, the arch nemesis of all brave adventurers, had suddenly fallen on me like a ton of bricks.  I was standing a few steps away from my vehicle staring at a massive door which had been built directly into the side of a mountain.  I knew that what I sought would be behind the door.  All I had to do now was muster up the courage to enter the dwelling and complete my quest.

I took a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other…but on second thought, I could just come back some other time.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!  I could come back when it was more convenient.  Now that I thought about it, I did have to run some important errands back in town today.  Those movies needed to be returned by this evening, and I think I forgot to pick up my mail.  It’s not like this mountain was going anywhere.  Mountains don’t move for crying out loud!  They’re stationary.  That’s why they’re called mountains!

Unfortunately my inner dialogue/deliberation must have taken considerably more time to conclude than I imagined, because the sandstorm was right on top of me when I came to my senses.  Now I was left with no choice.  I could not drive anywhere in the sandstorm, so I had to seek shelter behind the door in the mountain.  Curses!  It took a determined effort to pull the massive door open to the point where I could slip inside.  The howling of the storm was truly demonic.  Pulling the door shut completely muffled the noise and left an eerie silence in its place.

“Oh hello there sir.  I say, it sounds like quite the storm outside doesn’t it?”

Terrified, I whipped around to face the mysterious, heavily accented voice and came face to face with an imposing dragon.  I say face to face, but actually, the dragon was about ten meters away reclining on an extremely large couch in a vertical humanoid manner, wearing a red smoking jacket, and sipping from what appeared to be a porcelain tea cup.  It was reading from a large book that was lying open in its lap.

“Oh my…I can’t…You’re…!!”
“Yes, yes, yes.  Let’s just skip the formalities shall we.  I’m the dragon that you didn’t actually believe existed.  You must be that Penfold fellow I heard about on the radio come to slay me, hmmm?  Don’t bother responding to that.  The truth is written all over your face.  And close your mouth.  That awestruck look you humans have is quite unbecoming.”
“Look Mr. Dragon…or sir…or whatever it is you wish to be called.  Please don’t kill me.   I’m rather fond of life at the moment.”
“Well now.  The way I see it, your continued existence depends entirely on you.”
“Huh?”
“Look Penfold; you don’t mind if I call you Penfold do you?  I feel like I’ve known you for eons.  You are just the latest in a long, long…long line of humans who have come to shuffle me from this mortal coil.”
“What happened to the others?”
The dragon raised his tea cup and pointed its pinkie claw at a rather large pile of bones off in the corner of the room.
“Oh.  I see.  I take it you’re drinking their blood from that cup?”
“Good heavens no!  This is my daily cup of Earl Grey.  I always take it when I sit down to read.  But back to my point.  I’m rather tired of you adventurers.  So here is what I propose.  I’ll let you live if you go back from whence you came and tell everyone that you slew me, the dragon.”
“You’re kidding?  No one will believe me!”
“Oh yes they will.  I’ll give you one of my scales along with some of my collected artifacts as evidence.  You’ll be a hero!  And I’ll finally be left in peace.  What do you say?”
“Can I have a minute to think it over?”
“No.”
“Okay then.  I’ll do it!”

Waveriders.  Allow me to introduce you to Pigeon John.  He is an utterly charming individual who will greet you like an old friend upon your first introduction.  You may not know him now, but trust me.  After you listen to some of his music he’ll become that long lost relative whom you’ll never lose track of again.  Sure, there might be times when you don’t pay close attention to his goings on, but sooner or later a voice in the back of your head will cry out, demanding to reestablish contact.  With that in mind it’s a very good thing that Pigeon John’s latest album, Dragon Slayer, has hit the market.

Quite a few years back, I was properly introduced to Pigeon John when he opened for one of my favorite hip hop groups, Blackalicious.  His performance was stupendously entertaining!  At the end of the show I approached his merch table where he was peddling his wares.  I shook his hand, exclaimed how awesome his show had been, and asked if I could buy a copy of four of the five CDs that he was selling.  Essentially, I wanted to buy everything he had ever done in one fell swoop (only lack of funds stopped me)!  The years have since come and gone waveriders, but my appreciation for PJ’s music has never wavered.

Taking that into account, it is with great remorse that I must relate I was not initially blown away by Dragon Slayer.  It had been four years since PJ’s last album, Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party.  During the lead up to the release of Dragon Slayer, I built up significant expectations as to what this new album would sound like.  Those expectations were shattered upon my very first listen.  PJ, like a lot of great artists, decided to take his music in an exciting new direction (much more singing, less rapping).  Unfortunately for me, it took about two weeks for my stubborn nature to accept this fact.  Once I let go of my expectations however, Dragon Slayer quickly became essential daily listening.  In fact, this may be my overall favorite PJ album ever!

So what makes this album so likable?  Dragon Slayer is a feel good, wonderful ride from beginning to end.  Unlike some other hip hop albums that come to mind, it is chock full of material perfectly relatable to the everyman.  As a matter of fact, that is a strong part of the appeal of Pigeon John’s music.  He is himself an everyman, just like you and me.  His concerns often match up very closely with our own.  A perfect example is the song “Buttersoft Seats” in which he worries about making enough money to adequately support his family.  Tell me.  Has your significant other/domestic partner ever left you a list of things to accomplish while they were away from home?  Take a listen to “To Do List” and have a laugh at PJ’s expense.

One of the other aspects I hang my hat on when recommending PJ is how soberingly honest his songs can get.  The tale spun in “Davey Rockit” of a boy stubbornly pursuing his dreams in the face of great personal adversity is beautiful, touching, and bittersweet.  “Rock Bottom Again” recounts the artist’s battle with substance abuse.  But hold on a second.  It’s not all doom and gloom here.  Dragon Slayer has plenty of happiness and cheer to spread far and wide.  The album opens with the electro-thump rave up “The Bomb”.  Later on one finds the highly energized “Hey You” (reminds me of early Arctic Monkeys musically), and the swaggerific “So Gangster”.  And the last track, “Ben Vereen”?  Ridiculous!

The bottom line is this.  Pigeon John has created an album that will appeal to anyone with open ears and a keen mind.  Get this album now.  You’ll love it!

--Penfold

Buy here:  Dragon Slayer
Buy here mp3: Dragon Slayer



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