Hello Blue Roses:
Wall of Death (Richard and Linda Thompson)
Purchase directly from Absolutely Kosher
My internet stardom came and went in seconds.
Last summer, my GF and I went to the Sled Island Festival in Calgary, Alberta Canada, and being Destroyer obsessives, went super early to get sweet seats at the Grace Presbyterian Church for the Destroyer and Chad VanGaalen show. Getting there super early meant that we ended up sitting in the front row, which was a real treat because Dan was in amazing form that night – sitting in a crowded church of people being absolutely reverent, it was a religious experience. One of the songs that Dan played for the (possibly first) time was “Foam Hands,” which we promptly uploaded to YouTube and told a few people about. Next thing you know, it is on Pitchfork and Stereogum… the Internet does its thing.
Like everyone else in the world who heard “Foam Hands,” I fell in love with that song. It re-confirmed everything I love about Dan Bejar’s songs – sharp, witty lyrics with obtuse pop-culture references (in this instance “Since U Been Gone”). When I heard, way the hell back in October, that Hello Blue Roses was doing a split with Frog Eyes, and would be doing a version of “Foam Hands” I freaked out. It was enough to get me to start doing this very blog.
And then I waited. And waited. I ordered this on October 17th and it just arrived today. This is the danger of pre-ordering vinyl – shit happens, but I have waited a long time for this record – 112 days to be exact. 112 days of anxious waiting.
So I get it, put it on the turntable and… I don’t know. The Hello Blue Roses side, the pairing of Dan and his SO Sydney Vermont, suffers from the same thing (for me) that the full length suffers, namely Sydney’s vocal affectations. I have heard a few of her songs where she loses it (look for a new album soon from her other band with Dan called Bonaparte where she brings the rock), and I think she has a great voice. Yet, when she is doing the HBR stuff she has this weird… drawl. I don’t know. I don’t like it. Yet, you cannot keep a good song down, and “Foam Hands” manages to overcome. Barely. Thankfully, the Linda and Richard Thomson cover delivers, with Dan and Sydney trading off. It is sweet, and I do like it. A split decision.
I was just as excited for The Frog Eyes side, and they (thankfully) end up making this split an absolute must have. I always forget how much I love Frog Eyes. Every time that I put it on, I am always blown away. Their side of this split is fucking rad. Two re-workings of songs off last years radical Tears of the Valedictorian, they re-do these songs and do them justice. These songs seem like they could have been recorded in the 1950’s, or been featured on Twin Peaks or something. I can’t wait until they put out another album.
Can I make this way too long post even longer, and suggest that it is a fucking tragedy that Frog Eyes aren’t huge superstars. I know, I know, lots of people really hate the singing (or think they do), but I challenge anyone who claims to “hate” Carey Mercer’s singing to listen to these two songs to keep that position. Try “Policy Merchant.”ot
Bottom line: HBR side is kind of ok / Frog Eyes side is amazicon.