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Review: Elephant Goes West-Whirling Dervish EP by jason
December 29, 2011, 10:00 am
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Elephant Goes West-Whirling Dervish
Elephant Goes West-Whirling Dervish EP. Self-released, 2011.

One word comes to mind while I listen to Elephant Goes West’s EP Whirling Dervish: Beatlesque. Specifically, Paul-McCartney-post-Sgt. Pepper-Beatlesque. They have that kind of timeless-yet-old-timey thing that a lot of bands I’ve listened to lately have. I don’t know if that means this is a trend in music or just in my listening habits, but it’s a thing.

For the most part, the album is pretty innocuous, even when their songs are about a failing relationship, as in “First Time/Last Time.” It’s still pretty by-the-numbers pop music. That is, until the final track, “Apples.” On “Apples,” well, I’m not sure what’s going on. A recording of someone talking about how the Wisconsin Public Sector unions were warring against their neighbors and how Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme. These clips bookend a McCartneyesque pop song. I’m not sure what the band’s doing here…on one hand, this could be a pro-libertarian message. On the other hand, the mechanical distortion they put over it makes the whole thing sound kind of like the infamous Max Headroom pirate broadcast. I usually don’t like music to have a strong political message, but as I’m not sure what the message is here, I’ll let it slide this time.

All told, Whirling Dervish is a great little EP that leaves me anticipating their upcoming album. Whirling Dirvish can be downloaded from the band’s Bandcamp page for free.
-jason



Review: Dana Falconberry-Though I Didn’t Call It Came by jason
December 22, 2011, 11:25 am
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Dana Falconberry Though I Didn't Call It Came
Dana Falconberry-Though I Didn’t Call It Came. Crossbill Records, 2012.

Dana Falconberry’s new EP, Though I Didn’t Call It Came is a good example of how inadequate labels can be for music. I could call this a folk album, or even Americana, what with the acoustic guitars, and violins. And reading the lyrics, such as on “Maple Leaf Red” where Falconberry sings, “Brook feather green, robin egg blue/ penstemon lavender I dream of you,” as well as the albums many references to a specific, outdoorsy locale (in this case, Northern Michigan) it would be easy to assume that this is just folk music.

Sonically, however, the story’s a bit more complicated. There’s a string quartet, a harp player, and even some wine glasses at one point. See, when I think of folk music, I think of music that is easily transportable, music that would sound just as at home if played on a front porch in the woods as it would on a stage. On “Petoskey Stone” in particular, there’s a lot of subtle instrumentation going on. In fact, especially on that song, I’m reminded more of Andrew Bird than any folk musician.

I guess this is the counter to the argument I made a couple of months ago when I said that certain genres were dead languages, citing folk as a genre for historical reinactors. Dana Falconberry is making folk music for today, so I stand corrected.

Though I Didn’t Call It Came is out on January 24, 2012, on Crossbill Records.

-jason