Dan Bejar’s work hits so many touch points for me… Mercury Rev, War on Drugs, LCD Soundsystem… and all wrapped up in layers of nostalgic synth pop. ‘Crimson Tide’ features on his/Destroyer’s latest album Have We Met.
This sound oozes nostalgia. Apparently, Dan Bejar made his band record ‘Dream Lover’ after just two rehearsals. In a parallel universe, I hear Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue trying to do a Lou Reed impression while being supported by a horn-laced E Street Band. “Here comes the sun.” I hope so. ‘Dream Lover’ was the first single from Destroyer’s 10th album, Poison Season. Have a great weekend.
A story of how music can save. ‘The Private Psychedelic Reel’ is the closing track off The Chemical Brothers’ second album Dig Your Own Hole. It’s a great tune in its own right, but is especially remarkable for what it brought about. Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons contacted Jonathan Donahue to fuse their electronic music with his Mercury Rev brand of psychedelia. Donahue is credited with “Effects [Dub ‘tetix Wave’]”… whatever. Importantly, the track inspired a disillusioned Donahue to start making creative music again and Rev’s best, Deserter’s Songs, followed shortly afterwards. Thank you Tom and Ed.
Also in 2002, Mercury Rev had the audacity to cover John Lennon. ‘Isolation’ had originally featured on his first debut release, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Jonathan Donahue and folk covered it as part of a tribute compilation. Sacrilegious it is, but I appreciate the ever-so-slightly faster pace and the Neil Young impression.
From one distinctive voice to another. Alberta Cross was once an Anglo-Swedish act, formed by singer-guitarist Petter Ericson Stakee and bassist Terry Wolfers in London in the mid noughties. Uppsala-born Ericson Stakee has since parted ways with his “cockney brother” and now operates out of NYC. A couple of weeks ago, he was back in London playing at the Borderline. I went into the gig believing his voice to be an acquired taste (e.g. Jonathan Donahue, Will Sheff, Jonas Bjerre), but left thinking it fit the bill. His renditions of ‘Water Mountain’ and Bowie’s ‘Five Years’ are still front of mind.
I’ve mentioned them this week, so I thought I would elaborate. Mercury Rev released Deserter’s Songs to great acclaim in 1998. I recall first hearing the album and being completely taken aback. So much so that when I went to see them live in ensuing years, they never lived up to that initial moment, as exemplified by ‘Holes’. The long player’s opening track, its symphonic arrangements were perfectly layered over Jonathan Donahue’s extraordinary falsetto. That’s hard to reenact in the Brixton Academy.