Marc M Cogman

Albatross

Albatross by Marc M Cogman
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AlternativeAmericana
For fans of:Ryan Adams, Pedro the Lion, Wilco, Chuck Ragan, Ray Lamontagne
Tip the Artist $1 Suggested Tip
  1. If I Stop Singing Check My Pulse
  2. Still Running
  3. The Long List of Names
  4. The Wedding Party
  5. No Show Tonight
  6. That's Mine, This is Yours
  7. Tender Venom
  8. You'll Never Work in This Town Again
  9. Elizabeth Murphy & the Albatross
  10. The Road Home
Description

STORYTELLING: ALBATROSS AS CONCEPT ALBUM

an essay on my fourth full-length record, and my first concept album (Feb. 2014)

I could probably write a book about Albatross. I nearly have already. I have been obsessed with this record from its earliest stages, ever since it was just the faintest spark of an idea. And as I have been obsessed with it, I have obsessed over it. For me, that means writing: lists, charts, and ramblings that could generously be described as "essays." Before 90% of the songs on the album were written, I'd already generated thousands of words of commentary on what this album would be, what it would mean, where it would fit amongst all the other work I've produced, and what it would aim to capture.

I offer these opening statements as a disclaimer. I mean to write an essay on Albatross in this space, but I can't possibly say everything I want to say. It's a difficult enough prospect to get anyone to listen to an entire record in 2014, let alone read about one. Recognizing this is the best chance I have to say anything about the record and actually be heard, I will focus on just a few of my thoughts on Albatross for now.

For nearly my entire creative career (or at least in the pseudo-mature work I've produced since 2002), I have been trying to make concept albums. I'm not sure what the root of this compulsion is. I'm a casual (which to say, not obsessive) fan of those famous concept albums of the 60's and 70's, by bands like Pink Floyd and The Who. I've spent more time dissecting modern examples of this paradigm: Cursive's The Ugly Organ, for example. Yet, I can't say this is what inspired my streak of concept album fever.

I suppose I've just always believed in the notion of the album as art form, as opposed to the song. I appreciate records that are greater than the sum of their parts. A group of songs, in my opinion, can achieve a different level of artistic power. Likewise, the increasing sense that music is a disposable, value-less entity is exemplified in the "single." 99 cents. 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Quick, weightless, inconsequential. Albums aren't that way. They have weight and substance. They require the sort of attention we're willing to give books and films. A concept album reminds you that its songs are part of a whole - that they're best served together, not apart.

So I've always wanted to make concept albums, and in my naivety, I think I probably believed I was making concept albums all these years. While I trust I've been successful in making records with thematic cohesion, I can't really agree here in 2014 that the two Neon Calm releases, My Perfect Muse and One More Rocket Summer, nor my three previous solo records have truly been concept albums. When one throws out that term, something else is implied: a sense of narrative. That has always been the concept album's aim - to produce not just a group of songs that belong together and share common ground, but to literally tell a story, with characters and setting. The fact is, I have never made an album like that. Until now.

It may seem odd that I've written yet another record containing true tales about myself but this time it's a concept album. Yes, virtually everything I've ever done is autobiographical. What can I say? I don't have much of an imagination. What's different here is that I took great care to shape the songs and the album as a whole in a way that tells a single, larger story. If you experience this record in the way that I hope, that narrative will come across, however loose that narrative is. It's not going to be made into a rock opera any time soon with fresh-faced theater kids, but it is a concept album all the same. There is a story here, and it's my story. A true story.

I also want to make a point of saying how significant this particular story is to me. The process of writing and recording Albatross, along with the events that inspired it, make up the most important creative experience of my entire life. This album consumed me for nearly four years. During some of that time (especially early on), I'm convinced that it is what kept me alive, what forced me to get up in the morning and go on, when things had really fallen apart and nearly all hope was lost. I decided I couldn't die before I made this record. I recognize that this stubborn notion alone - my need to complete this task - was vital to my survival in a dark time. The idea of telling the story and telling it well seemed the only redemption for everything that had happened to me in those few years. I held fast to that hope: if I could make this record, I could finally put that dark time to rest.

My friend Ben De La Cour once said he couldn't even begin to think about healing the world with his music, because he was too busy trying to heal himself. This is one of the miracles of making records. The process has healed me my whole adult life. This was never so evident as with Albatross.

I know that every artist thinks their new record is the best they've ever made. And I fully expect some people to listen attentively to all 45 minutes, take off their headphones and say to themselves, "Eh. I like it, but I like [Danger Show / Balcony / Anthems] better." That's fine with me. Ultimately, art is subjective. I'm happy you're bothering to listen at all.

Nevertheless, I invite you to hear the story, and to understand what it has meant, to me, to tell it. For much of the last few years, I was convinced this would be the last record I ever made. I think I've probably backed off that notion a bit (I enjoy making records too much), but there's a certain feeling of exhaustion here, of finality.

A man gets in his car with all his earthly possessions and sets out. There is no destination; there is only the journey. He thinks about his life - what it has become, and what events have led him to this point. He allows himself to fantasize about happy endings, but he knows this trip is probably one final, bombastic act of self-destruction. But then again, no man ever really knows how his story will end.

Thank you for listening.

Marc M Cogman

Tulsa, OK

February 22, 2014

Credits

Music and lyrics by Marc M Cogman

Produced by Marc M Cogman, with invaluable help from Patrick Hanlin, Eddie Jackson, Steve McDonald, Kyle Fredrickson, Jared Evans, Chad Copelin, Hank Charles, and J.D. Andrew.

Recorded by Scott Riebling at his house in Raynam, MA, Eddie Jackson at Beach Studio in Hermosa Beach, CA, Steve McDonald at the Octagon House in Topanga Canyon, CA, Kyle Fredrickson at his house in Los Angeles, CA, Jarod Evans & Chad Copelin at Blackwatch Studio in Norman, OK, Hank Charles at Valcour Sound in Broken Arrow, OK, and J.D. Andrew at Ye Rusto! in Los Angeles, CA.

Mixed and Mastered by J.D. Andrew at the Record Plant and Ye Rusto! in Los Angeles, CA.

Album photography/artwork by Edward C. Simon.

Marc M Cogman plays acoustic and electric guitar, harmonica, hand percussion and sings lead and backing vocals.

Additional Musicians:

Patrick Hanlin - drums and percussion

Andrew Perusi - electric bass

Steve McDonald - electric guitar

Kyle Fredrickson - electric guitar, mandolin, banjo

Kellianne Noftle - backing vocals

Rob Leifer - headwounds

Chad Copelin - Conn organ, accordion

Karen Harmon - fiddle

Hank Charles - piano

J.D. Andrew - electric guitar

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AlternativeAmericana
For fans of:Ryan Adams, Pedro the Lion, Wilco, Chuck Ragan, Ray Lamontagne
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