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Cruel Child

by Viking Moses

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1.
03:48
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5.
04:40
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02:28
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03:49
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03:25
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12.
03:06

about

Nearly 13 years since his proper debut as Viking Moses, Baltimore musician Brendon Massei is slated to release his fifth album, Cruel Child. As one would expect from someone who is noted for having consistently toured since 1993, Cruel Child offers a dozen dusty and deep and wistful explorations of the soul, written in such a manner they could only have come from a master traveler of dark and imposing paths both literal and philosophical.

Yet in darkness, light; it would be wrong to fully assume that Cruel Child is an album that wallows in its misery. Yes, Massei sings with a deep and haunted voice reminiscent of Mark Lanegan, Will Oldham, and David Eugene Edwards, but like those masters, Massei is adept at hiding beautiful, tender, and positive messages that are shrouded in mystery and melancholy. The power of devotion to love can be found in the swampy gospel grunge of “Let This Trouble Pass,” the slow jam R&B rhythm of “Killing Kind” builds upon the tension of impatience, and the desolate power of bleak country emboldens the unfolding beauty of love in the one-two knockout album-closing punch of “A World So Full Of Love” and “Take Tender,” both of which are astonishingly beautiful love songs presented in a heartbreaking arrangement not seen since Townes Van Zandt.

Cruel Child is an album of dark sounds, to be sure; it is a beautiful darkness, though--one that should not be feared, but embraced. It is an album that unfolds itself slowly; its foreboding and lonely trails growing lighter on subsequent listens, revealing hidden beauty and truth with every visit.

credits

released April 5, 2019

Andy Abelow: synths on 11 and 12.
Otto Hauser: backing vocals on 3.
Spencer Kingman: organ and backing vocals on 3.
Joe Lewis: bass on 5, 7, 10, and 12.
Chris Marine: drums on 11.
Brendon Massei: vocals, guitar, bass, organ, synths, drums, and electronic beats.
Jacob Soto: drums on 3, 5, 7, 10, and 12.
Liz Vayda: backing vocals on 1.

Produced, engineered, and mixed by Brendon Massei at Epifo Studio, Baltimore, Maryland with initial tracking by:

Sam Buonavolonta at Historian Recording Co., Youngstown, Ohio on 1 and 4.
Christopher Daly at Salvation Recording Co., New Paltz, New York on 11.
Brendon Massei at Jacob Soto’s home in Portland, Oregon on 5, 7, 10, and 12.
Kris Poulin at Spencer Kingman’s home in Las Vegas, Nevada and Lab East Recording in Chicago, Illinois on 3.

5 and 12 mixed by Hunter Davidsohn at Business District Recording, Johnson City, New York.

Mastered by Evan Bradford in Los Angeles, California with special assistance from Jesse Ainslie.

Photos by Luca Giorietto. Art layout by Ryan Thurber.

Special thanks to Nora Banker and everyone involved.

All songs written by Brendon Massei and published by Epifo, ASCAP, except "A World So Full Of Love", written by Roger Miller with additional lyrics and arrangement by Brendon Massei.

© Epifo Music. All rights reserved.  

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Track Name: Fool For The Flame
She call my name. She dead on arrive. I'm clinging to her moaning, killing time.

I stay on my game. I call for the light. She took on my brain!

She call my name. She live for the fight. I live for the same, terrified.

Cut off from the corn field and tethered to the vine. Fleeting little molecule. Fading line.

But I stay on my game. I call for the light, a fool for the flame burning bright.


Words and music written by Brendon Massei.
© and ℗ Epifo, ASCAP.
All rights reserved.
Track Name: Pretty Little Eyes
Pretty little eyes, pretty little nose, your pretty little hands, and your pretty little toes, your pretty little swells, and your pretty little holes, it's pretty how they're covered with pretty little clothes.

See how quick I rise to the calling of your voice. I picture you with women, and I picture you with boys, but picture you with me as the caller of your choice to penetrate this silence with pretty little noise.

Then we can sit alone in the full light of the sun. Ask me, "What, then, have we come to?" Ask me, "What will we become?" Well, we'll become the law, the reborn rite of spring, the feat of human nature, the fate of human beings!

But I follow all alone, and I follow all the way, the falling of your footstep through the falling of the day. I watch you put it on, and I watch you put it all away. My love and sense of self is gone, while I watch you in this way, and I see your pretty little eyes, your pretty little nose, your pretty little hands, and your pretty little toes, your pretty little swells, and your pretty little holes, it's pretty how they're covered with pretty little clothes.


Words and music written by Brendon Massei.
© and ℗ Epifo, ASCAP.
All rights reserved.
Track Name: Let This Trouble Pass
I’m reaching for a world that’s nearly over, a life that taunts me as I hold it in my grasp like your gentle form within my arms as fleeting as your laugh. Just stay with me and let my trouble pass.

We can chase the day in circles going nowhere, as gorgeous as two playing children that we’ll never have, as endless as your sorrow longing for some heart’s regress. Just stay with me and let your trouble pass.

Stay with me, and let your trouble pass like two lips to ice-cold water pouring from the glass. I hear Hell is getting hotter, and living doesn’t last, but you can stay with me and let your trouble pass.

Stay with me!

You can break me in ten thousand lonely pieces, ten thousand worthless waving leaves of grass, one for every lover you left waiting for the chance to lay with you and let his trouble pass.

Just how you keep me reaching for a world that’s over, a life that taunts me as I hold it in my grasp, like your gentle form within my arms as fleeting as your laugh. Just erase me, and let my trouble pass.

“Stay with me,” she said, “and let your trouble pass, like two lips to ice-cold water pouring from the glass.” Well, I hear Hell is getting hotter, and living doesn’t last. “But you can stay with me and let this trouble pass.”

Stay with me!


Words and music written by Brendon Massei.
© and ℗ Epifo, ASCAP.
All rights reserved.
Track Name: In Servitude
I hid in my door, I hid my face, I hid my words, I hid my ways, and I hid my Lord. Forget a pretty minute, and what they'd do, they would storm in, and they'd see you: holding my door in servitude, filling my cup, bringing me more…

…sing for my ears, strip for my eyes, filling my years with uncountable lives, extending your love, embracing my body, repairing what's broken down, just facing me…

…place food on my table and feed from my hand, pour trust into my hands, pour skill into my hands, pour love into my hands, come out with me, cry out with the same tongue, shit in the same hole, having the same fun out on the same road, just facing me.

Words and music written by Brendon Massei.
© and ℗ Epifo, ASCAP.
All rights reserved.
Track Name: Headstrong
You said love is dead and gone. Now we're going at it headstrong. We laughed and fought about it all day long, and judging by your attitude, I can learn a lot from you.

And you say I got to know how to get it, and you say I got to know when to fly. But I don't let nobody tell me nothin’, forget it, cause it's love, it's never gonna die.

When her heart tipped the scale to the feather, it took all the fun out of the game, and we both know you could've had her but you let her get away, I think about this every day, it's probably better anyway.

Cause they say"you'll never know when you'll get it", and they say "you never know when it'll die." But I don't let nobody tell me nothin’, forget it, I said this was love, now, didn't I?

You told me I could go where I wanted to, and since these words fell, you never were the same. To think that anyone could ever change you...

Now you say one of these days I'm gonna get it, yeh you say, "one day the shit is gonna fly!" But I don't let nobody tell me nothin’, forget it, cause it's love, it's never gonna die.
Track Name: Surrounding Skin
Here in this little home, where rest our flesh and bone, we fuss and we moan. But let our healing come. O yes, I hope it comes. Must we starve to be strong?

This kneeling bed-by-bed, where rest and lust our fed, we fold our hands under our bowed heads. But who we asking for? Be it for us, or for our Lord? Have we not enough that we want more?

Feel alive! Feel in love! Feel the bones in your chest! Feel the surrounding skin, and the blood that flows within, just feel your stomach twisting beat-by-beat!

A bone in the burning sand triggers the fear of man, and there's always some fault in the law. But we go and we work real hard, and what we earn becomes what we are, and its nothing less than we'd kill for.

But feel alive! Feel in love! Feel the bones in your chest! Feel the surrounding skin, and the blood that flows within, just feel your stomach twisting beat-by-beat!


Words and music written by Brendon Massei.
© and ℗ Epifo, ASCAP.
All rights reserved.
Track Name: Kid For The Cattle
Finally caught up to the call, joined the cause and kissed them all, finally sacrificed the kid for the cattle. Should've followed all along, left the trouble all at home, and all of my battles. One can only wage a war, nothing less nothing more. Should we fall down on the floor, sore and rattled?

Gonna go a little more, get down filthy on the floor, where the lowly can no more fall the further, and fear the call to the hand, find the gall to understand, fumble lost in their land, O my Lord!

They call it a home, no calm there no song, they're so sad and alone and prowling. I saw life stalled in turn, left to fall, left to burn, O, I'll take what I've learned and come crawling.

Should the pollen of the clear tear the fallen from their fear, let it all disappear! O my Lord!

We're calling it a home, no calm here no song, we're so sad and alone and prowling. I see life stalled in turn, left to fall, left to burn, O, I'll take what I learn and come crawling.


Words and music written by Brendon Massei.
© and ℗ Epifo, ASCAP.
All rights reserved.
Track Name: Killing Kind
Shame on my baby. Shame on the lie. What words could complicate our lives? Little lies, like how you stood here waiting, like how without me you'd have died, like how the fault of the law is that God knows we're the killing kind.

I took you for your nature. You took me for my hide and stripped me of my virtue. The whole thing made me wild, but you're the calmest creature upon whom I've relied. O, I never would've took you for the killing kind. No, I never would've took you for the killing kind.

So go ahead and lay here, just lay right down and cry. The rain above, it made you, it brought you from on high and it washed away my wisdom, dissolving wrong and right and exposed all that I fear the most to the killing kind. Aw, it exposed all that I fear the most to the killing kind.

I see you hesitating from the corner of my eye. We know the world ain't waiting, so why are you and I? But your appetite's degrading, and I'm lessened by each bite, while I wait and watch the world whet the taste of the killing kind. While I wait and watch the world whet the taste of the killing kind. While I wait and watch the world whet the taste of the killing kind.


Words and music written by Brendon Massei.
© and ℗ Epifo, ASCAP.
All rights reserved.
Track Name: Rough Rider
She told us all, "Lay down." "Close your eyes", she said, and walked around. The room filled with her sound. I peeked my eye at times, a sneaky, curious, anxious look from the ground.

But we hold on, hold on, hold on! Better bust out a Rough Rider now. And we hold on, hold on, hold on, 'cause I'm falling in love like a child! And we hold on, hold on, hold on, and once it's started it's sure to go wild! Yeh, we hold on, hold on, hold on!

Well, stand there on your fear, and settle where you can. Then, friend, all you'll hear is the salt drying on the skin of your empty hand.

Now hold on, it's never quite like this, because life's romanticized, and it's passed on in a kiss.

And when I'm slipping under two lips so proud and brave, do they ever wonder just how we might behave?

But we hold on, hold on, hold on! Better bust out a Rough Rider now. And we hold on, hold on, hold on, 'cause I'm falling in love like a child! And we hold on, hold on, hold on, and once it's started it's sure to go wild! Yeh, we hold on, hold on, hold on!


Words and music written by Brendon Massei.
© and ℗ Epifo, ASCAP.
All rights reserved.
Track Name: A World So Full Of Love
I know how it feels to be alive with no desire to live. I know how it feels to die inside and try hard to forgive. And my way of finding out is cause a love just let me down in this world so full of love, but not enough to go around.

I was once so proud to believe in love that I could burst with pride, but that sunshine turned to storm, now it's all I feel inside. And it's enough to make me wish that I can I hide and not be found in this world so full of love, but not enough to go around.

Who has the advantage, are the vulnerable not chased? Who is not exalted for such openness embraced? Who can own their courage without surrender, honestly? Who shall have attention without something on display?

Take this spotlight, have it, here, who needs it anyway? Don't think that I'm above it, I have little more to say that could open up a heart or bring a wonder thundering through the mind of any wandering lost and gentle, endlessly.

I am here for the abandoned, I am here for the determined, I am here for the unlearned, I'm the distant light you see. I'm the sound you never heard of, I'm your chubby little cherub. I'm the painful weighty burden that breaks you to your knees.

And when you think you've finally reached me, all luminous and glory, I'm your never ending story, a mere reflection in a sea boundless by measurement, clouded by ignorance, without any evidence of existence or being.


Words and music written by Roger Miller with additional lyrics by Brendon Massei.
Track Name: Take Tender
Long shadows miss the sunlight on your face, while stars miss you in the morning. I tremble with your gentle hand, in place, so set on where you're going.

Take splendor from the corner where you wait. Take calm from the horror. Take little while you follow in your faith. Take tender for the daughter.

Stones littered on the sand, here, at our feet. Blood puddled in the furrow. Heat lifts in bended waves for you and me; nor we pause for tomorrow!


Words and music written by Brendon Massei.
© and ℗ Epifo, ASCAP.
All rights reserved.

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