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Gus Black “Autumn Days” Review

Gus Black, formerly the “Don’t Fear The Reaper” guy from Scream, as well as “that guy with that song” from shows like Alias, Smallville and One Tree Hill, performs a variety of smooth and upbeat pop-rock songs on his latest album Autumn Days. It’s hard for me to put together any more info on his influence on these shows as I haven’t really seen them. But, with such an association with such pop culture establishments, a few questions became apparent. Do Black’s songs make certain scenes more powerful? And on the flip side of that, do these mediums ultimately affect Black’s music. The answer to both seems to lead to yes.

Two of the tracks that I’m particular to are “Long Beach (It’s a Miracle)” and “Certain Kind of Light.” Both are distinct, yet oddly similar given my previous statements and the context of the remainder of Autumn Days. I mean that in the sense that I can see these songs being played at absolute crucial plot moments in something like The O.C. OK, bad example, haven’t seen The O.C., but from what I hear about the show, these songs seem like they could be played at absolute crucial plot moments in The O.C. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, as I find both songs very smooth yet inclusive of guitar which explains the songs meaning in entirely different ways from one another. But with few exceptions, these two tracks are different from the rest of the album, which is considerably slower and sung in whispered harmonies. Both are done well, but with the long track list of the album, the non-made for TV sounding songs tend to drain on and lose emphasis.


    Gus Black is part of the Largo scene,(Largo being the legendary Los Angeles music venue) that includes such luminaries as Pete Jorn, Jude, Michael Penn, Aimee Mann, Glen Phillips, and of course Jon Brion. Having interviewed Gus a few years back for Bucketfull of Brains magazine (a leasurely spring morning spent chatting away in Notting Hill)i found a man of great passion and integrity and can testify that the overiding motivation for him is the music and little else. The good fortune of having his songs picked up for tv shows, and with their universal themes of love and redemption, they work just perfectly in this purpose, are the financial benefits. An artist can often make more from one track on a soundtrack than he could ever hope to make from his or her own albums and this often vital cash injection is the major factor in allowing such talented artists to continue making music, its as simple as that.
    Ironically, reacting to your rewiew as a big fan of Gus’ work i have found it is often the slower tracks that are the real substance of his output. The previous album to this Uncivilised Love is more upbeat and while great, lacks the sheer emotive majesty of this latest album or indeed his masterpiece Word Of Mouth Parade. It takes a few plays and a bit of patience for this to become apparrent, but it is well worth the time and effort to get past the hooks and into the real stuff.
    Mick Dillingham

  • Right on Mick – my statements relate to the fact that all the press I was sent about him touted him as this kind of a guy. Hell, if you go to his web site, “about” him will tell you the same. I wanted to dig a little deeper, but when you’re (or those working for you) marketing yourself a certain way it leaves an impression. Great comment, made me reconsider things.

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