I’m in the midst of an online debate with some old friends from various parts of the US and Europe about “production” vs. “song” as those things relate to mainstream acceptability – and radio airplay. While adding an IMO to the thread, I begin listening to the songs posted on the Jonny Woodrose & The Broken-Hearted Woodpeckers Myspace page. Jonny Woodrose had emailed me a few days ago to invite me to listen. The first song shocks me. It’s one of those moments when you sit and think, “is this something great or something horrendous?” I’m maybe four songs into “Live From The Garage” and I’m sold.
I’m old enough to remember some of the weird experiments of the 60s and 70s when every single rule was broken and then broken again, just to see how many rules could be broken. This “album” is a riot in the grandest lyrical traditions of Shel Silverstein’s “Freaking at the Freakers’ Ball,” with a hit and miss vocal performance and lo-fi garage production quality to match any early Dylan record… you can throw in some early Bright Eyes recordings for some modern relevence if you want. This is not to say that I like everything here… as is the case with so many band Myspace pages, there’s some stuff there that I do cringe at – especially the instrumental “Broken Hearted Assholes,” the epitomy of a garage band jam, which brought an end to my listening… with one exception… I went back and relistened to the “Curse of Luann Lilly.”
Maybe it’s because of the alternative country rock vibe emoted throughout the album that this song would bring comparisons to some of the more experimental Wilco stuff… but really – it’s much more like what I remember as a teenager in the late sixties when so many garage bands experimented with mind expanding drugs, three major chords, layers and layers of noise and distortion, along with whatever vocal expression came along. Take that, adding in healthy doses of tongue in cheek political psychedelic country-folk-rock of bands like Country Joe & the Fish, and you get pretty damn close to the flashback I just encountered.
This is raw, unaffected, noisy music with plenty of witty adult sophisticated humor and spirit … and it has perfectly abducted my ears, brain, and heart from listening to anything more mundane and properly produced for this cloudy Sunday afternoon.