New Tunes from Dent May

dentIt’s hard not to love a man with a ukulele. First, there was Stephin Merritt, and now the indie world has given us Dent May. We loved his debut album, and right now we’ll gladly get our hands on anything the man will put out, so when Daytrotter released an unreleased song, we jumped on it so as to bring it to you. Here is “Eastover Wivez.”

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/dent-may-and-his-magnificent-ukulele-eastover-wivez.mp3]

Download: Dent May – Eastover Wivez [MP3]

Dent May – The Good Feeling Music of…

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Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele – The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

Rating: ★★★★☆

Not much has been made of Dent May, which is quite a shame, as he is the man that fills the void for all those in need of a decent lounge singer to mix with their pop-culture references.  He’s part Jens Lekman, part Stephin Merritt.  The release of his album, The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele, is worthy of your ear, so do the man a favor and tune in.

One of the more original elements in Dent May‘s albums seems to be his reliance upon sun-soaked tunes, lending many to note that he leans towards tropicalia. It’s like he’s gone and mixed all  his elementary bar lineage with a trip to somewhere in the Caribbean.

Sure, the use of the ukulele definitely will draw comparisons to the work done on must-have albums like 69 Love Songs, but he’s not simply taking a rip off of his influences.  The infusion of various island elements brings an entirely new spin on the genre of uke-pop.  Each song has its own personality, which is all you can ask when the origins of the songs stem from such a domineering instrument.   He even adds various sound bites throughout to add a little something extra; its his own spin on the genre.

Vocally, you’ll find him walking the line of Merritt and Lekman, which all owes a great debt to lounge singers throughout the history of time.  It’s a vocal that contains remnants of soul, but has a heavy influence of showmanship.  Mixing these qualities together provides for a uniqueness all his own.  Despite similarities to those who visited the land before him, Dent May has a sound all his own.

One thing you can pick out immediately is the songwriting touch, which pays an homage to the obvious influences.  Lyrical content reflects his ability to take mundane, trivial even, stories of life and spin them in a fantastical sense that keeps the listener interested.  It’s a quality of writing that only few before him truly possess, and we’ll leave those names to historians for the time being.  Who wouldn’t love to hear a song about one’s love for Michael Chang?

Rest assured, in the silence times of uke-pop, Dent May has taken over as the king of swinging lounge acts eager to win your heart and your ear.  It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but dammit if it doesn’t make you want to swing someone around in pure glee.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/02-meet-me-in-the-garden.mp3]

Download: Dent May – Meet Me In The Garden [MP3]

Albums Of The Year: 15-1

A few days ago, we gave you part one of our albums of the year list.  Today we bring you the best of the best from a wide range of artists who brought the noise this year.  We’ve fought it out amongst our ATH writers for weeks and these are the albums that we all loved.  These 15 albums went into thunderdome and emerged victorious.  Follow the jump to see if your favorite band made the Top 15 of 2008.

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Death Vessel – Nothing Is Precious Enough For Us

Rating: ★★★★☆

Sub Pop records claimed that most journalists would find it quite difficult to place Death Vessel, as the band is virtually indescribable.  However, I like a good challenge, and since I like this record, I have vowed to do it justice.

Joel Thibodeau is the man behind the music, and perhaps the reason people find it so difficult to classify his music is his voice.  His voice is what you might call androgynous, standing a thin line between being thrown in one direction or another.  Regardless, it is very soothing whilst matching the music that it carries along.

Musically, it isn’t as difficult to put into place, if you were one to do such things.  I suppose I am one for such things, and in my decision to this I have come to three various pieces of Joel’s musical recipe: Iron and Wine, Deerhoof and Stephin Merritt (solo).

Death Vessel has previously toured with Iron and Wine, and the touches of folk leanings are immediately noticeable, though not necessarily ripped off.  The production has the intimacy of early Sam Beem works, while maintaing its own personality altogether.  It’s not as gentle as Iron and Wine, which is where I think the strength lies in this album.

As far as referencing Deerhoof, that lies in the ability for the songs to operate on various tangents, pulling back together uniquely, and never making you feel as if you really strayed very far from the core of the song.  The first few songs alone go from folk, to a hint of rockabilly and on to vaudeville.  It makes for an interesting listen, yet maintains its own uniqueness.

Now Stephin Merritt references I don’t throw around lightly, but if you’ve ever run across his solo works, and looked at the instrumentation he uses, you will find that Mr. Thibodeau is not far off in his own endeavors.  He calls upon many many friends to gather and flesh out his songs, much as Merritt has always done.  The best thing about this effort is that while several songs contain multiple instruments outside from the usual fashion, they all seem to find enough room in these songs.

My only draw back with this album is my own inability to connect to the lyrics.  They are indeed outside the typical writing style, but at times they resemble Lewis Carroll. Despite my inability to connect, they are still displayed in such a polite manner as to make a listener draw in closely, going deeper into the music as they do so.

When its all said and done, this is a genuinely unique album worthy of multiple l suggest picking it up immediately.  And, if you fall in love with it, as I did, you can check out the band on September 12th at Emos Lounge.  Tickets are available at TicketWeb or you can click this link.

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