As far as guitarist Paul Solger is concerned, the mood and feel of Mark
Lanegan's third solo album, Scraps at Midnight, was born at Rancho De
La Luna, a single-level ranch house and recording studio bordering Joshua
Tree National Park in California.
It's where Solger and Lanegan worked on the LP and where all the music came
"All and all, the recording of the album was like no other project I've done. It was
so relaxed and unstructured, but somehow this incredibly beautiful album came
out of it," Solger said. "I'm sure the studio and where it was had something to do
with it ... It was up in Joshua Tree, California, and in a house, so the atmosphere
was great compared to a regular studio."
Not surprisingly then, Solger said the 10 tracks on Lanegan's self-produced
third effort, scheduled for a late July release, delve into new territory for the
singer. As an example, Solger offered a brief description of the ending and
" 'Because of This' definitely goes a little beyond," Solger said. "It's a nine-
minute, Stoogesesque psychedelic drone. 'Hospital Roll Call' is the ultimate
opening. It's the opening song for every show, a spaghetti western meets a surf
movie, then it kinda settles into what we're used to from the first two albums."
Lanegan's previous solo work broke from the Screaming Trees mold as well.
The Washington-based Trees forged their reputation on a sound that mixed
hard rock and punk. In contrast, Lanegan's first two albums, including the
acclaimed 1994 release Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, took steps in a more
brooding, acoustic direction.
In recent years, the Screaming Trees have been better known for internal
squabbling and Lanegan's well-documented substance abuse problems than
for their music.
The simpatico set of musicians on the new Lanegan album included bassist
Mike Johnson -- formerly of Dinosaur Jr. -- along with Solger, drummer Kenny
Richards, guitarist Fred Drake and Dave Catching, who alternated between
acoustic slide guitar, bass and piano.
Solger praised the songwriting and the continuity on the album, saying he
thought that it was Lanegan's best work yet.
"It's got nothing to do with the fact I played on it, but I feel it's got stronger songs
and plays as a whole from beginning to end better than Mark's first two," Solger
said. "Although I like them, too, it's just that we caught something special that
week up there in the high desert ... And the fact that Mark was newly clean and
sober I'm sure played a huge role."
Curt Page, webmaster of the Screaming Trees' "Sweet Oblivion" website, said
in an e-mail that he can't wait to hear Lanegan's latest.
"Lanegan is our most talented singer," Page said. "[It's] sad that more people
don't know it."
The complete track listing is: "Hospital Roll Call," "Hotel," "Stay," "Bell Black
Ocean," "Last One in the World," "Wheels," "Waiting on a Train," "Day and
Night," "Praying Ground" and "Because of This."