Thanks to all the loyal readers who have written in to ask where Wednesday Morning Download has been these past few weeks. Here's the deal: Wednesday Morning Download is no more. It has ceased to be. It is an ex-column.
But ... I'll be back in two weeks with a new real-time music column, updated daily. In addition to daily free downloads, there will be concert reviews, interviews, music news (and gossip), free downloadable mix tapes, and assorted musings on music. If you have any ideas for column features -- or, as always, if you have a great download to recommend -- drop me a line.
In the meantime, here's a really stunning song, one of the most affecting, gutsy pieces of music I've heard in an age -- and, I'm pleased to say, a Salon Exclusive Free Download (thanks to Secretly Canadian Records).
"Hope There's Someone," Antony and the Johnsons, from "I Am a Bird Now"
"Hope There's Someone" completely flipped my perspective on Antony, New York chamber-pop cabaret performer and budding gay icon. I've known his music for a while now, and always appreciated the songwriting, but I've been unable to get past the gratuitous vibrato in his voice, his sticky, overflowing, campy shtick. Then I heard this song, and all my reservations were overwhelmed by the power of it. This is the work of a profound and fully formed performer, and what I had heard as lazy eccentricity I now hear as part of a perfectly realized, sometimes uncomfortably intimate artistic vision. He sings like Bryan Ferry with the warble taken past affectation to the level of confrontational, punk defiance; he sings like Little Jimmy Scott, the most angelic of vocalists; he sings, most daringly, like Mahalia Jackson, with a rich gospel contralto that should be laughable, but hits you in the gut with pain, not laughter.
Antony has loaded his upcoming record, "I Am a Bird Now," with big-name cameos, including appearances by Lou Reed, Boy George and fellow warbler Devendra Banhart. But with the exception of the lovely "What Can I Do?" sung by Rufus Wainwright, the guest spots barely register: The stars aren't here to add anything musically; they're here to, by dint of their fame, help leverage Antony into the stardom he deserves. Here's hoping it works.
Salon Exclusive Free Download: "Hope There's Someone"