Saturday, 10 September 2016

Chuck - My Band Is A Computer (Old Money/Audio Antihero)

The perennially wonderful Audio Antihero have introduced a new off-shoot label.  It's called Old Money Records and if what it's going to release is anywhere near as good as this first offering, we're in for a treat.

Old Money's remit is to put out reissues and compilations, with the intention of allowing us to catch up with music from the past that hasn't yet received the attention it deserves.  As someone who constantly self-flagellates due to an inability to give everything that passes through my inbox as much of a hearing as I'd like, this is a pleasing venture in itself.

I don't think anything from Chuck ever did pass through that inbox, which is a shame because I've clearly been missing out on something very special indeed.  Chuck's approach is unmistakeably rooted in that tradition of eastern US songwriters - he's from Massachusetts but now lives in Brooklyn - who have a way of mixing the celebratory and the world-weary in such a way that any dormant paradoxes lying therein are brought kicking and screaming, yet often laughing, into the world.

I detect strains of Jeffrey Lewis and Leonard Cohen but I note neither of those are mentioned as influences in the press release.  Daniel Johnston and
Jonathan Richman are though, and these are just as discernible. Other ears may no doubt find that Chuck is coming from somewhere else entirely, because what he adds to all this is very much his own.  The defiantly bombastic synth-led overture of opener 'Happy New Years Babe' make way for the wistfully introspective 'Oceans' and 'Mary Anne' yet the mesmerising, uplifting musical backdrop, particularly of the latter, continues the defiant mood, which prevails, even as the awkward tiny details of life so brilliantly assemble in Chuck's acute lyrical observations, throughout the collection.

I'm playing 'Pictures' in my Dandelion Radio show this month, another track that marries upbeat instrumentation with reflective lyrics, in this case searching for clues in a personal history that, for Chuck, comes across as somehow both familiar and alien. 

In all, then, a new direction for Audio Antihero, but with a familiar stamp of quality. 'My Band Is A Computer' is available now, as download or limited edition cassette, here

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