Pre-Program Blitz, Part 1 [PPB140]
7 June, 2013
So, a new show's coming up soon. And I do mean soon - hopefully within the week. However, this time I'll be presenting several new discoveries, which I haven't covered yet over here, so...voila. As usual, today's three selections bear no connection to each other - different genres, different sources, different labels, and so forth. Dig:
Mark Wynn – Folks, I am in love with a mumbler of song and spell. Mark Wynn of York is a songwriter of the post-modern variety, the sort that embraces the mundane and the absurd in equal turns. In his signature monotone he delivers train-of-thought narratives over jovial guitar accompaniment.
Social Situations, his last “full-length” (in quotes, because all 12 songs are barely two minutes long), is a delightful ramble, full of memorable lyrics, often self-depreciating and bristling with sarcastic wit. In these rollicking jaunts, Wynn discloses episodes of wandering around record stores, strolling down city streets, and observing others. Over-wrought clichés, silly pop references, and parenthetical asides are all jumbled together, delivered with mock smugness and irreverent abandon. If I wanted to be critical, I could point out that Social Situations is extremely homogenous – indeed, “Bukowski” and “I’m Lou Reed x6” share practically the exact same melody – but I’d rather not be. Besides, one could level the same complaint at Leonard Cohen’s debut album, but that doesn’t hurt the man’s rep any, right? Right.
You can dig into Social Situations – as well as a bevy of other name-your-price releases – on Mark Wynn’s Bandcamp page.
Orca Team – Imagine, for just a moment, if a trio of heartbroken, surf rockin’ souls from the 60s were granted a 30-minute recording session in your basement at around 3 AM. Now, just substitute the ordinary bassist with a crackin’ good one from a post-punk band, and you might have Orca Team, a three-piece outfit originally from Portland, OR. Not too long ago, I bought their first major LP, Restraint, on vinyl - and, I'll admit, I've grown fonder of it with each listen.
Mind, like the aforementioned Social Situations, Restraint is also a very homogenous record – each track is roughly two minutes long, and sounds like perfectly bright, buoyant pop, but conveys a tale of anguish and woe. Still, I could easily pluck out some highlights – like the urgent chorus and dexterous drums on “If…”, the irresistibly catchy “Michael” (which, yes, is a plea of desperation from a gay dude’s perspective - OOH), and the dramatic tension and gorgeous vocals of “Strains”.
All in all, Orca Team are worth investigating. For a sample, you could stream their contribution on Indietracks’ 2012 comp (“Resolutions”)…OR, simply wait for my next radio broadcast, which will feature one of those highlights. And if you’re enamored with what you hear, you can order Restraint from their label, HHBTM, here.
David Cronenberg’s Wife – If, like me, you thrived on the eclectic and demented racket of Paul Hawkins & The(e) Awkward Silences, then here’s another cackling assembly for your perusal. David Cronenberg’s Wife, a London-based quartet fronted by the devious Tom Mayne, play a wicked brand of lo-fi rock n’ roll that wrangles together rough-and-ready riffs, gothic horror, and perverted humor. Their last LP, “Don’t Wait To Be Hunted To Hide” (from the tail end of last year), delivers equal measures of gleeful menace and disturbed sweetness, with screeching organs and crashing drum one minute, and gently caressed fiddles the next.
Consider, for instance, “Man At The Back Of The Woods”, a hammering, frenetic number that accelerates into Birthday Party-esque levels of chaos. Directly after that barn-burner comes the sinister “Love Is A Headless Dog”, which ratchets down the tempo with a prowling guitar and opens with this chilling verse from Mayne: “I hung a headless dog by your window, / and stabbed a note through its eyes”. Or, in another surprising sequence, DCW jump from the snarling murder anthem of “Spiked” to the ballad of “Such a Sweet Boy”, where a lightly played harpsichord trips along to a girl’s casually-sung tale of a romance with a one-armed man.
The most startling tune on the album, however, would clearly be “For Laura Kingsman” – though sweet and folksy on the surface, and laced with a honeyed fiddle, the lyrics tell of a miserable bachelor who falls in love with a 15-year old girl. Its tenderness, in between the crazed, rollicking tale of “The Pied Piper of Maidenhead” and the bluesy riot of “Lonleyman”, is rather offsetting, and indeed downright uncomfortable – but, ah, that is DCW’s charm.
Really, if you’re sick of dreamy, pristine tunes from the other ether, or craving some juicy, provocative narratives instead of mere hallowed voices, Don’t Wait should be a welcome smack in the face. For a quick sample of DCW’s sweeter side, you can stream/buy “Drawn Again” (and the rest of Audio Antihero’s comp, while you’re at it); otherwise, order Don’t Wait at Blang Records’ online store. (You can also read some other, more competent reviews here, which should seal the deal. Just keep scrolling...)