LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own… today it’s the turn of New Bums – a cheekily named multiple meaning-ed duo on cult label Drag City, whose music drips with emotion and harmoniously soars skyward. Like The Everly Brothers playing the music of Elliott Smith, their second album is called “Last Time I Saw Grace” (out 19 March) and as before features Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) and Donovan Quinn (Skygreen Leopards).
The six string finger picking of songs like “So Long, Kus” are up there with Richard Thompson while the plaintive lyricism of the likes of album opener Billy, God Damn” is reminiscent of Robyn Hitchcock or The Jacobites, and insistent ditties like “Onward To Devastation” have a pseudo-medieval Fairport Convention vibe. The bottom of the bottle spirit is undeniably punch-drunk, about to fall out of the ring Replacements, world weary yet comforting songs to be huffed from a brown paper bag, and follows on belatedly from the fine work of first album “Voices In A Rented Room”. Even better it clocks it at a succinct, economic 38 minutes, which would be perfect for a commute home if that was a thing any more.
New Bums are hazy, sometimes woozy and ever so slightly mysterious, their tales of meeting in 2007 are at odds, but seem to have at their heart an initial mistrust and indifference after priestly compulsions, misunderstandings and near coming to blows over lodgings but finally and thankfully leading to a bonding over “Beggar’s Banquet” by the Rolling Stones.
On one level the tunes of New Bums are timeless, on the other very now, with a reference to GPS keeping them on the straight and narrow.
I was keen to learn more about these wayward strangers and wayfaring souls, and their long-anticipated Lucky 7 definitely does not disappoint…over to Ben and Donovan…
1. Dave Kusworth — Next Tuesday
Dave Kusworth’s solo work is a somewhat hidden treasure trove. Sweeter in tone than his equally great Jacobites partner, Nikki Sudden, his post-Stones balladry avoids the pitfalls of rock nostalgia by offering a totally unique voice and a narrative that feels lived in. In that weird realm between Cinderella and Jane from Occupied Europe, Kusworth planted his flag.
2. The Everly Brothers — Lord Of The Manor
Rad cut from when The Everly Brothers incorporated some trippy late night party vibes into their tunes. Tragic story reminiscent of an old British folk ballad with the excellent line “I wish that the flowers would only grow thorns” courtesy of writer Terry Slater.
3. Amanaz — Khala My Friend
Goes in and out of tune with perfect composure, a kind and melancholy voice sings to a friend, underneath there’s a fluid melodic music that grows exuberant during the instrumental breaks, with the guitar igniting into gnarly fuzz before a stop-on-a-dime shift back into wobbly grooviness, then the voice returns and continues pleading with their friend Khala.
4. Opal — My Only Friend
Kendra Smith & David Roback were a killer duo. Masters of crafting parts that all have purpose, they balance two sections here; one a spacious world where you walk in slow motion and speak to yourself; the other is a Western gallop where you’re swept up in the rush of days. A full experience devoid of the factitious.
5. Marine Girls — In Love
Everything is so beautifully woven. The bass and guitar sound almost alarmingly human in their interaction. The bitter and funny vocals, delivered with a mocking scowl are made moving by their contrast with the amiable la-la backing vocals and blithe instrumentation.
6. East River Pipe — Silhouette Town
“You can talk to Jesus/ I’ll drink beer in the sun”. He’s one of the great wits and writers to blossom in the bedroom recording era.
The Lucky 7th: New Bums – Tuned To Graffiti
Depicts a dream world in advanced decay. The 10′ bottle is what a cartoon drunkard sees and the singers are fine-tuned to the chicken scratch initials, Kilroys, and spray painted squalor they find around them.
THANKS TO NEW BUMS (a sentence I’d nary think i’d be typing)
AND TO SIMON RUSSELL OF DRAG CITY
New Bums “Last Time I Saw Grace” is out on 19 March – deets below…