Saturday, February 09, 2008

Spanish Prisoners

Songs to Forget
Calling one’s album “Songs to Forget” is baiting lazy musical journalists to say, “Yeah you should.” Luckily the advice of the album title is not something one needs to heed. In fact it would be hard to do if one tried. These songs are not unmemorable. Leonid Maymind seems to be the main man behind these tracks. His name may or may not be an anagram. Like his compatriots in Califone & Sparklehorse he shifts easily from ramshackle folk twang to gurgling electronics, sometimes within the same song. “Songs that are hard to put out of your mind” would be a more accurate if less eloquent title for this disc.

The album opens with “Song for the Weary”. It is a sad weepy country tune with wheezing squeezebox, banjo, strings and what sounds like a children’s choir. I am a sucker for crying in your beer songs, as my grandfather called them. This one is a tearful one, with a tiny bit of hope at the end. “Some Among Them Are Killers” is more electronic. It sounds like Jeff Tweedy singing with basic drum machine and simple keyboard lines. It still does not lose the organic feel of the first song. The warm distorted guitar leads are a sweet addition.

“A Thousand Zimmermans” is the hit of the disc. It is a sloppy raucous affair. “Because you made me feel like, I was just the flavor of the week, like some offhand promise you never intended to keep” -- these simple lyrics should not work but they do. “This not that” is a pleasant instrumental with reverb-y guitars and mumbled singing, whistling and various other audio confectionary.

”Mantequilla” was recorded in part by Eric Metronome. You can definitely hear a change in the recording -- less lo-fi, more refined. While this songs flirts with syrupy sweetness, there is enough melancholy to balance it out.

”Periwinkle Blues” is a silly song with great overmodulation on the drums and guitar. If I thought he was being serious it might be problematic, but the horns show that it is really all for fun. It is a pleasant little romp. On the last track Leonid does his best Smog impression with piano and guitar and burbling keyboards. It is stately and refined, sad and sweet.

Leonid Maymind is a talented musician who likes to play with genres, shifting from hillbilly music to electronics to blues. What is surprising about this disc is how such diverse songs seem to sit so comfortably side by side with each other. This album shows promise. I am sure I will be surprised at what he does next.
(Dan Cohoon) (Exit Stencil)