Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods. Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt. But there’s music in us.
It feels wrong to post anything today, mere days after the attacks in Paris and Beirut, without noting the violent ends to which extremists will go and the myriad ways in which we respond. Many of us treat music as a safe haven and a bridge between beliefs and borders. Surely the events must touch a particular nerve in musicians and music lovers familiar with Le Bataclan, one of the sites of Friday’s violence. So I’ll open with this video from yesterday of a man who towed his grand piano behind his bike, parked it outside Bataclan, and performed John Lennon’s “Imagine.” And I’ll direct you to this poem by Jack Gilbert, who fiercely insists that “there will be music despite everything” — despite the sorrow, despite the slaughter.
Flock of Dimes
As one-half of Wye Oak, Jenn Wasner has created brash, folk-tinged rock alongside drummer & keyboardist Andy Stack. The Baltimore native has since ventured out with solo work under the moniker Flock of Dimes. Though the full album has yet to be released, Wasner is road-testing the songs as she tours with EL VY (more later on the side project of The National’s frontman). If the Flock of Dimes songs we heard on Wednesday night represent almost-but-not-quite-finished products, then we’ve got some true sonic candy to savor in the months ahead. These are majestic, effects-drenched pieces — so full-bodied that you wouldn’t guess they’re the product of a single performer.
For most of the opening set, Wasner was half-hidden behind an array of keys, dials, and guitars — but there’s no hiding that voice with its shimmering energy, like a dream that visits by night and haunts through the day.
Early on in his set, Hamilton Leithauser flashed that signature smirk: “My kid’s here tonight, so I have to spell out the title of this next one: ‘Dad is D-R-U-N-K.'”
I had been introduced to the little gal earlier that evening. She now sat beside her grandparents, clapping excitedly for her dad.
Said dad is the former frontman of The Walkmen. The indie rock band announced an indefinite hiatus in 2013 and its members ventured forth with solo efforts — Leithauser’s Black Hours (produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij), Walter Martin’s collection of children’s songs We’re All Young Together, and Peter Matthew Bauer’s Liberation! And last month, Leithauser and Walkmen guitarist Paul Maroon released Dear God, a set of nine original songs plus covers of Tom Paxton, Will Oldham, the Everly Brothers, and V.F. Stewart.
From the opening notes, we are enveloped in sonic folds gauzy and evanescent. Guitars swirl with synths and merge with skittering percussion. Skimming lightly above the surface are the gently sparkling vocals of Kari Jahnsen, aka Farao.
From the opening notes, we are enveloped in sonic folds gauzy and evanescent. Guitars swirl with synths and merge with skittering percussion. Skimming lightly above the surface are the gently sparkling vocals of Kari Jahnsen.
This is Farao. What sets these songs apart from the masses adopting the color-by-number electronica-plus-breathy-vocals approach is Jahnsen’s play with structure — her ability to introduce twists and turns that keep things slightly off kilter.