Thursday, March 13, 2008


"Dumb Smoke"
from Unhistories (Drag City)
The ultra-generic name masks Singer’s semi-supergroup status: among the featured players are members of Lichens, US Maple, Bird Show and Town And Country. But together, they form a unique animal that should be judged on its own merits. The multiple vocalists refuse (this being indie rock, let’s assume choice rather than inability) to sing in key or harmonize cleanly, and the guitars combine tautly plucked barbed-wire explosions of notes—think Andy Gill, D. Boon, maybe Pussy Galore-era Jon Spencer—with just-slightly-off, kinda melancholy-unto-detuned strumming. The bass is pleasingly loud in the mix, but not a constant presence. It would all be kinda reminiscent of the Minutemen attempting circa-1969 Grateful Dead (or simply of the Minutemen’s own “Take 5, D.”), if the drumming was a little more interesting. An ultimately opaque little nugget of music, “Dumb Smoke” says nothing more than “This moment is happening/There’s music playing right now.” So OK, then. [Click through to listen to the MP3 and read a short, barely-relevant interview with Singer's Ben Vida.]

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