Lonely People of the World, Unite!
Man, everyone should make an album. Or write a book, or make a TV show, or make some t-shirts or whatever direction their muse pushes them. The creation of these things is now viable by deft use of the Tv-typewriter that sits before you. No longer do you need a costly multi-track recorder or screen printing kit or loom or publisher to get your creative juices spurting out the window. I'm not saying that the results of all these unleashed Clios and Eratos are going to be quality, but fuck it. Isn't enough of your life spent making "quality" products that you generally don't care about? Don't you want to look up on your bookshelf and see your novel there, even if you xeroxed and bound it yourself at Kinko's? Load up your iPod with your own half-assed jams and it is as legit as having it sullied by marketing teams and business execs and printed in Canda and ensconced in a plastic jewel case that snaps the second you get all that goddamn tape off the spine. More legit, in fact.
And then, just maybe, your little creation will be a true winner beyond your own eyes and allow you to be hoisted upon the shoulders of the screaming teen masses, shrieking, "Thank you, People's Poet! Thank you for liberating us from the Man!" This precisely is the fate that should befall Devin Davis' fantastic little homebrewed album Lonely People of the World, Unite! Holed up in his home studio in Chicago for nearly two years, recording every guitar strum, handclap and backup swoon himself, Devin has crafted one of the freshest upbeat indie pop albums in a long time. From the organ kick and insurgent beat of the second track "When I Turn Ninety-Nine" (where he also throws in a killer Radiohead impression on one of the choruses) I wanna jump around and do a dance like Jack Black did to Katrina and the Waves in "High Fidelity". You can tell Devin is a big music fan, since this album is carefully sequenced between rave up numbers like the aforementioned and sweet slower numbers like "Turtle and the Flightless Bird" where he pushes the limitations of his vocal range to totally engaging and charming effect. This is no lo-fi boombox monster-piece, this instead could be aptly described as Artisan Pop music.
This is not merely an a-for-effort affair - the songs are dense with cultural and historical references ("Cannons at the Courthouse" alone references Willie Nelson's toking up at the White House, mentions a Starbucks at the summit of Mt. Everest and musically quotes Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues' "Your Wildest Dreams" and still manages to hold it together) and, when they do quote his influences, do it with impeccable style, hence the Ziggy Stardust explosion of "Moon Over Shark City." There is a bona fide boogie-woogie piano (when's the last time that term came up?) on the excellent "Paratrooper With Amnesia" and arena-in-my-rec-room Bic-wavers like "The Choir Invisible" replete with fireworks.
In fact this album is so chock-ful of information, the only complaint I could have is that I want a break from all his ideas and manifestations somewhere inside, but then he has sweet acoustic ballads like the closer "Deserted Eyeland" which gives you a breather before exploding into full orchestra pop masterpieces. Plus, that's a weak complaint that someone is giving me too much of himself on a record. I wish I had that problem more often. The opening lines of the album, on the song "Iron Woman"
Its hard to live in a basement
And not get carried away
When you're a caveman
On the pavement in the USA
A light head in the headlights
Staring temporarily stunned
Three whole weeks spent
Throwing matchsticks at the sun
get at the real feel of the album. This is one talented guy who took matters into his own hands and pushed forth a beautiful Creation without a band, without a label, without anything but his own enthusiasm and determination. Its a laudable effort even if the results suck, but to me its revolutionary when they rock as hard as Lonely People of the World, Unite! does.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com