|I know you're tryin' to disarm me/ Well, you and whose army?|
But the Lucksmiths never did get famous and I still also get records from the always kind Jimmy at their U.S. label, Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Matinee, even though I never seem to fall for bands like the Hermit Crabs or Bubblegum Lemonade or the Electric Pop Group or Brighter or Harper Lee or Math & Physics Club quite the way I fell for the Lucksmiths, but it's an indie pop label in the grand Sarah Records tradition so maybe someday you will? And there's another Australian named Darren Hanlon who used to play guitar with the Lucksmiths in some capacity, I'm not entirely sure, and he's toured with the Magnetic Fields and Billy Bragg and Violent Femmes, but I probably first heard about him on January 24, 2005, when one Phillip Smith, principal urban designer for strategic landuse planning for the Maroochy Shire Council (in Australia), sent me an e-mail responding to my the Guild League review, and I hope the statute of limitations has expired such that he won't mind me pasting that e-mail now:
just read your review on Guild League's 'Inner North' and am grateful for another perspective.And I was thinking that Jimmy at Matinee introduced me to Hanlon's music after that because I'm pretty sure there's a Hanlon song on a Matinee label comp [EDIT: Curt Kentner, head of Portland-based label Magic Marker, says Hanlon actually appeared on Magic Marker's House Full of Friends comp, 7.1-- Curt and Molly refer to him as "Uncle Darren" to their little girl, Penny, who is already more than a year-and-a-half old!] but now that I'm searching through my old e-mail I see that actually it was Mike from a little Michigan label called Microindie who suggested that Chris from Candle, the Lucksmiths' Australian label, might want to get in touch with me about sending along some Hanlon records. So I have the first few CDs around here somewhere, but 2005's Little Chills is the one I reviewed for Pitchfork, and I really liked it; I filed my review the week after Pitchfork's debut Intonation Festival, which is now the Pitchfork Music Festival, and the review had some words in it I don't even understand now, like "panoptic" and "quiddity" (the second one I do understand, actually, only because I'm a nerd), but aside from trying too hard to be oblique and all-knowing I think in some ways that review was sharper than a lot of what I write now, and it also included this quotable one-liner: "Hanlon revels in the mundane with the childish exuberance of Jonathan Richman." I remember getting the follow-up CD, Fingertips and Mountaintops, which is still on my shelf also, and according to my e-mail trail I "liked what I heard." So I don't really know what happened or why there was never another review but I'm kind of embarrassed because I suspect I felt like I had too much of an uphill battle convincing everyone I wanted to convince even though no one had challenged me yet, and the only thing I hate more than editorial politics getting involved with criticism is being the one who flinches first, because it's two for flinching, you know? I should've joined a clique.
This has been one of my favourite albums of 2004 and I'm as surprised as anyone that I would like it, after the record company accidentally sent it to me (I'd ordered an album by Darren Hanlon!).
The most appealing aspect of the album for me was the (sub-)tropical atmosphere of the lyrics/music. I was beguled by the visceral. Flying foxes, citronella, approaching rain, gentle sounds, heat...all very real for me. I can't help but wonder if the power of local conext may have been lost on you!?
So this is all to say that I was super excited (amped?) when I saw that Hanlon was going to be in the middle of a lineup with two other "D"-named singer-songwriters, David Dondero and Derek Lambert, last night a block away from me at Vaudeville Mews. I don't want to write too much about the show because there's another new album, I Will Love You at All, and I want to write about that somewhere and you never know which details you'll need, but I can say Hanlon was eminently charming and funny and I was smiling the whole time and a lot of other people were, too, even though nobody else had heard him before I don't think, and the place wasn't very full but people were walking up toward the front and being attentive and stomping along to the one country-ish song, and Des Moines audiences are polite as a rule but it felt like everybody really was having fun, and he asked what Des Moines means and people said something vague about how it means "the monks" which I'm not sure is even true but so he wondered if maybe we had a monastery or something, he also said he never knows where he is because David drives which is a great deal if you can get it, I've been re-learning to drive lately and trust me sometimes I wonder why I ever left New York where you can get away with not even owning a car, I don't think Mrs. Des Noise minds that much but I'd like to learn just for myself, and anyway Hanlon did a duet with himself and played banjo and harmonica and referred to his music as "folk" at one point and played something that he said other people compared to Jack Johnson even though he wanted it to be more Doobie Brothers, and he played a song about getting beaten up on Christmas Eve and made fun of us for cheering when he said it was going to be about getting beaten up, and he told us a little bit about his town of Gimpy in Australia, like how people are really into guns and sports and pineapples there, and he told us about how he got to be an extra on a TV show called Heartbreak High because it was a show about bullies and his scar from getting beaten up on Christmas Eve made him look tough so they didn't make him leave the place that he was eating a burger at even though they made everybody else leave, and I hope it's OK that I told that story because he said he wasn't sure he'd ever told anybody, not even his sister because she would've been angry he was getting to eat a burger, and he played a hilarious new song that's not on the album that's "not exactly deep" but is a true story about missing the No. 17 bus in some American city somewhere, maybe Portland, and I won't ruin it for you.
|I must haste back to my coffin.|
Retribution Gospel Choir with Why Make Clocks and Wolves in the Attic on Thursday
The Strange Boys with Gentlemen Jesse & His Men and Natural Child and the Jitz on Friday
and oh man I just noticed New York rapper Joell Ortiz will be here Monday
yes this means I missed Bone Thugs at Val Air-- how was it?