DEATH OF THE SUN is the debut full-length studio album by John Lathrop as The Stan Laurels. Being a full-blown concept album at nearly 60 minutes in length, it is a psychedelic pop/rock/prog debut of epic proportions. The concept? Boy meets girl, boy gets abducted by aliens; but there's a whole lot more to the story.
Part of the reason The Laurels often use the tagline "The scientifically engineered combination of everything and nothing you've ever heard" to describe the music is because John had spent his entire life up to that point listening, playing, absorbing, and breathing music. And what is evident immediately upon listening is the astounding amount of heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears that it literally and figuratively took to write, play, record, and produce an original album of this magnitude from scratch. John is self-taught in every aspect of musicianship, vocals, and production, and the roadblocks and challenges that creating this record (especially without the help of any bandmates or producers) brought was staggering, but rewarding. The result is a surprisingly rich experience that is highly unexpected from a single person, much less in their debut. This constitutes the "scientifically engineered" part of the equation.
Lyrically, on the surface, it is a story of love and fear and dreams and yes, literal alien abduction; but most of the songs have deeper underlying metaphorical personal meaning for John in ways that are highly relatable. Sonically, it dynamically spans across countless moods and genres including pop, rock, psychedelic, progressive, funk, classical, and more (there's the "everything you've ever heard" part). But perhaps the most prevalent genre on the album is a nod to 1960s British pop/rock, which is apropos, considering some of John's favorite bands are The Beatles, The Zombies, and The Kinks. These influences and many others can be heard via homage, but John brings his own unique flavor consistently; for example, in "Samaanya," you'll find a catchy piano bounce that unexpectedly gives way to a quick-fingered piano solo that evolves into a fully classical-inspired interlude with mellotron strings right smack-dab in the middle, then back to the piano jaunt, then ending with a heavy, dissonant guitar solo with a sort of extended deconstruction of the instruments as the song literally dies down. This is no standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus radio tune; this song and much of the album leans into a sort of prog experience carefully wrapped up in an ultra-melodic pop presentation. This is just one example of the audio adventure that is DEATH OF THE SUN, which does in fact equate to "nothing you've ever heard."
released November 10, 2009
All music & lyrics written by John Lathrop
All Vocals/Instrumentation by John Lathrop: bass, drums/percussion, acoustic/electric guitars, piano/mellotron/synthesizers, lead/harmony vox
The creation of earthling Sound Scientist John Lathrop, The Stan Laurels have a big, lush, multi-layered sound rooted in the
melodic pop sensibilities of the 60s (think Beatles/Zombies). Both vintage & modern, The Laurels feature power-pop, psychedelic/progressive rock, folk, & classical styles. The music is the scientifically engineered combination of everything and nothing you’ve ever heard....more
I was a lonely bird, black as midnight sky; I didn't know where to go, or how to fly. I saw a little dove, pure and white as snow; she looked at me, and I could see she had a soul. All my life, I could not fly; I didn't know the reason why. But now I know I never tried. Then, I met my little dove; she showed me how to love. She picked me up and then dusted off my wings; she took to the sky; I followed behind, and learned everything. I cleansed my wings and found I am not a blackbird; like my beloved, I am a dove, and she's my world. Now that I know how to fly, I leave the earth and kiss the sky. And now my heart will never die ... now that I have my little dove ... she is the one that I love.
Track Name: Klaatu: Parts III, II & I
Part III - Inside Klaatu: I am lost; I can't scream; I forgot how to dream. Blackness seeps into my veins; cold hate creeps within my brain.
Part II - Taken: I want you to remind me that if my body ever leaves the ground like this, then something's probably amiss, because this gravity thing is pretty strong and it always keeps me grounded; I can't get around it. But somehow I'm high in the sky, and I don't know why, but I get the feeling I'll be gone for a long time. So please go see my lovely wife, and please tell her that I love her, and I guess you'd better tell her good-bye ... good-bye ... good-bye ...
Part I - Pleased to Make Your Acquaintance: A man came up to me and said, "I'd like to buy your planet, kind sir." I said, "It's not mine to sell, but you're welcome to stay." He said, "That's OK -- I don't like doing business anyway. I'll just go ahead and take it from you, if that's all right with you."
Track Name: Samaanya
Samaanya, look what you have done. Waiting for the "Space Police" is causing mania, for in my heart I know they will never show. Despite my wish, I know they don’t exist. Samaanya, super-terranean; your head is a chrysanthemum, arms like accordions ... or so, to me, it seems. Is this a bad dream? Am I just bored, or out of my fucking gourd?
Track Name: Alien Love Slave
The warmth of your sun would melt anyone from my land ... this fragile land. But what I would do to be there with you and hold your hand ... your purple hand. But I would disintegrate; I would evaporate. I love you, can’t you see? Darling, I think that you love me because you’re probing my ass; you’re not a doctor, but you’re in my ass. Oh, yes, you’re hurting me; I’d rather hurt than feel nothing. And when I look in your eye -- your big, emotionless, black, empty eye -- I see myself, my whole life, loving you. I will be true, forever with you -- I’m in your control … in your control. One day you’ll find, beyond your mind, you have a soul … you have a soul. When will that day arrive? Will I still be alive? I love you, can’t you see? Darling, I wish that you loved me, but I can see that you can’t figure out what in the shit I am babbling about. Oh, it turns out I was wrong -- you were a robot all along! And though you can’t ever love me ‘cause you don’t have the ability, I will be happy to be your robot love slave.
Track Name: Othello's Waltz
They call him Othello and this is his song. He was a young hippo and he did his girl wrong. He carried a suitcase full of memories and rye; a violet cloud followed, hanging low in the sky … and he knew just why. He lost his true love in an ugly croc fight; he ran and ran. He never looked back; he just saved his own hide. He ran and ran. He ran, oh, how he ran. He wandered the plains, waiting for death to arrive. He stared at the sun, hoping to burn out his eyes. In his mind, he didn’t deserve to exist; but he was too afraid to put and ending to this; he went on punished. Out of the corner of one teary eye, he saw his girl. Deep in his heart, he knew she was alive; he ran to her. This time, teary eye, he saw his girl. Deep in his heart, he knew she was alive; he ran to her. This time,he ran to her. He ran to her. Never again would he stray from her side; he ran to her. He ran to her. They ran, oh, how they ran. They ran, together, they ran.
Track Name: If I Walked with the Dead
Thank you for all you’ve done; I wish some things could be undone. All in all, I had a blast, though we all know that’s in the past. Whenever I wake, I hope that you & you will take a second to figure out what the hell you’re doing. How can you be so oblivious? Could I make it any more obvious? If I walked with the dead, would you regret anything that you have said? Or would you be relieved that you don’t have to believe? Whenever I wake, I hope that you & you will take a second to figure out what the hell you’re doing. I don’t know what you’re doing. Like I said, we had some fun, but those days, they have all gone. How I wish that wasn’t so … If I walked with the dead, would you regret anything that you have said? Or would you be relieved that you don’t have to believe?
Track Name: Darkening Skies
I have turned a blind eye to the deafening cries of my own wounded mind as it keeled. I saw with my eyes the darkening skies, but I didn’t realize it was real. I can see the irony … our world taken from you and me by some otherworldly beings without relent or mercy … like white man has done a thousand times before … It would be easy for me to concede defeat and go quietly in the night. But the hope in me and the uncertainty of it all makes me see I must fight. Can we do this? I don’t know. Can we get through this? I don’t know. Are you with me? I don’t know. Are you living? I don’t know. All that I know is I cannot be alone …
Track Name: Gone
I know you'll never be what you once were to me. You were my symphony; you'll be the death of me. One thing before I go (a fine way to close the show): take in one breath for me … the last one you'll ever breathe again. Take in one breath for me; hold it in if you please. Savor the moment, you see; when it's passed you too will be gone … so long … now I'll say good-bye; now I'll say good-bye to you. Never did believe in silly destiny. But now that I can see, I know that you were sent to me to be the end of me; you’ve done it faithfully. But now you’re going to see what I was meant to be. My destiny is true: I’ll be the end of you. Don't say a prayer for me. Don't say a prayer for me. Save it for yourself. Save it for yourself. You're gone … so long. Now I'll say good-bye. Now I'll say good-bye.
Track Name: Never Mind
A sparrow sang today, quite a familiar sound; a song that yesterday could not be found. For years or months or days, they kept me half-dead. But a voice now resonates deep in my head. It is Samaanya, and this is what she said: “Never mind -- we don’t want your world anymore. You ruined everything you adore. We don’t want you anymore. Your planet’s not worth fighting for.” Is this another dream in a series of cold daymares? Or is this what it seems -- am I breathing air? Is anything here real, or a Serling-esque hologram? Do I feel what I feel, or is this a sham? It looks like I am home, feels like I’m free. Don’t know if I’m a clone or if I am me. Like Paul once said, maybe I should just Let it Be … Now that I might just have a second chance, never again will I march with army ants. The banal existence of the common man, the average Stan, is dry and stale and rooted in fear. It eats our souls year after year. No more; no more. “Never mind -- we don’t want your world anymore. You ruined everything you adore. We don’t want you anymore. Your planet’s not worth fighting for.”
Track Name: Birth of the Sun
Behind the wall of black, there is an amber glow. The wall begins to crack; the light begins to show. Never did I know that you would bring me life. The sweet wind blows; the warm hue grows; and I am inside your shiny haze; the darkness fades. No more daze, no gloom. I am in bloom. Your rays surround my soul, and lift me to the sky. Your purity I extol; your beauty makes me cry. It’s no more wonder why you would bring me life. The sweet wind blows. The warm hue grows. And I am inside your shiny haze. The darkness fades. No more daze, no gloom. No more craze, no doom. I am in bloom. I thank the stars above you’re here to bring us LOVE.