My first exposure to Mercury Rev was "Deserter's Songs" - easily among my favorite new releases in 1998. Interestingly, they really changed their stripes from the days of old when they were shooed from the Lollapalooza b-stage for making *too much* noise. "Deserter's Songs" is a polar opposite - subtle and delicate. It's very cinematic at times - almost like a 1970s concept album, but without being totally pretentious. I can't really say what the movie would look like, but they certainly are successful at creating a seamlessly gorgeous atmosphere. Despite the fact that they use a rich quantity of instrumentation on the album, they do a good job translating the material live - and they usually do some nifty covers, too - from Neil Young to Captain Beefhaeart to Dylan. After an enormous amount of time in the studio over the course of the last year or so, Mercury Rev have finally released "All is Dream" - an at times more orchestrated, at times more rock-oriented work than "Deserter's Songs". I'm still making friends with the lyrics, which feel to me to be a little forced in one or two spots - but the album sounds wonderful.
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