Off the Beaten Track with Mary Leary: Music Reviews & Musings
MIKE WATT: Hyphenated-Man (ORG Music/ClenchedWrench) — NANCY MAGARILL: Dancin With the Ghosts (Useless Words Music), Down Below the Rodeo (Nancy Magarill) — GAY FOR JOHNNY DEPP: What Doesn’t Kill You, Eventually Kills You (Shinebox Recordings) — NICEY NICE WORLD — JOE PERHAM: That Wonderful Old Two-Holer; Six A.M. at the Trap Corner Store, etc. (Joe Perham)
Mike Watt’s name has been interchangeable with “cool” for so long, it’s challenging to dredge up an objective assessment of his latest emission. One of my first reactions to the 30 short tracks (or, as he says on his website, parts of one long song) on Watt’s third opera, Hyphenated-Man was, “This is brilliant – like so many Watts projects, it nails the essence of new wave spirit, which wasn’t about any one type of clothes or sounds or performing outfit. Nor was the original wave of the new wave always about conventional notions of talent – many outfits were comprised of a few pinches of musical talent with generous dollops of creativity and chutzpah. It wasn’t even always about sounds/music. It was about new possibilities, mold-smashing, and artistic freedom. None of which means that Watt’s latest will sound a lot like anything previously called “new wave” – other than, perhaps, his own work.”
Yup, that’s more or less what I thought. That Watt dwells so naturally and clearly at the heart of that ethos is a quirk of divine nature. Apparently the project was inspired to some degree by the work of Hieronymus Bosch.
Hyphenated-Man prompts another reference to Don Van Vliet (featured in the last OTBT). Early as the Minutemen, Watt evidenced a deep affinity for Captain Beefheart. Some of that funky, kinetic, spontaneous energy strains through this album, manifesting particularly on “Confused-Parts-Man,” “Boot-Wearing-Fish-Man,” and several others. I very much like “Wheel-bound-man,” which swells with Tom Watson’s masterfully minimalist-while-juicy guitar. We need to start some sorta Alterna-Grammies so Watt can get a big, fat award – maybe from Tom Waits, who’s occasionally mentioned as a “sounds sorta like” re: Watts, but whose brilliance, in my opinion, is of a different, more conventional stripe.
Much further off the general radar is a musician and composer named Nancy Magarill. As often happens, this talented New Yorker wandered onto mine on Myspace somehow, some time in the last year. Her stuff’s definitely informed by performance artists like Laurie Anderson, and there’s a touch of Bjork, and uh, the truth is, I really like some of her tracks, and others aren’t my thing (I loathe Bjork’s work). But what I love about Magarill is her intense ambition; her hunger for growth and experience: she just keeps doing things. Some of the things she does are downright uncomfy (songs about perversion, objectification, and misery) – which takes some pretty big girl-balls. The latest things include creating a track, “What Would We Do If the World Stopped,” as “part of the recent Ministry/Tunecore competition” that got pretty close to the top of the heap, along with garnering some new fans.
She’s also done some recent collaborating with these fun/creative-feeling collagists called Bookshop & Gallery. Here’s a video for a tune she did with them, which has nothing to do with Johnny Depp (except he’s in the video).
I don’t even know what movie is featured therein. I do know about this group called Gay for Johnny Depp, which sent me its latest CD for some unknown reason a few months ago. I felt oddly grateful, at least inasmuch as the band turned me onto one of the best band names and expressions I’d heard in ages. The music? Umm… pretty much your run-of-the-mill Satan-conjuring scream-core – it’s predictably uber-offensive, and some of it rox like crazee.
But boy, do I want to move in with those Bookshop & Gallery guys – wherever they live, it seems like a mighty nicey-nice place.
That reminds me of yet another new project by Marcelo Radulovich. Since I’ve just done a write-up on Nicey Nice World for another publication, I’ll just share one of the group’s audio clips and tell you it’s a veritable three-person pile-up of San Diego-area progressive genii: Marcelo, cellist/multi-instrumentalist Joyce Rooks, and Jim Call from The Penetrators (yes, they’ve all done lots of other things, but I want to keep some kind of pace going here). To the point: Man, can NNW elicit the cosmic giggles/brain-fully-awake thing in me – and, as can be seen from all of the above, that’s not so easily done. And… how did they know I’d been waiting all my life to hear “Hoedown for Marcel Duchamp”?
And… isn’t it comforting to hear some good, old-fashioned, potty-brained stories from an old guy with a Maine accent? That’s more or less what I thought when I discovered this character named Joe Perham. Since this OTBT is already jockeying for “weirdest installment yet” status, it seems somehow apt to wrap it up with a taste of Joe’s storytelling. He’s a master of the genre.
Mike Watt: www.clenchedwrench.com
Nancy Magarill: www.myspace.com/nancymagarill; www.nancymagarill.com
Bookshop and Gallery: www.bookshopandgallery.com
Nicey Nice World: http://niceyniceworld.wordpress.com/
Joe Perham: www.facebook.com/pages/Joe-Perhams-Maine-Humor; www.joeperham.com