Saturday Spotlight: From Eelwax Jesus to Declan’s Well
Another Saturday night and you ain’t got nobody? Well, it has been called the loneliest night of the week. It’s also been said that S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night is alright for fighting. But here at Second Disc HQ, this evening will hardly be lonely, because Mike and I will be indulging in some of our favorite new music. Yup, that’s right! For this special weekend update, if you will, we’re turning the spotlight from back-catalogue favorites to all-new tunes. After all, today’s talents are making for tomorrow’s reissues, and it’s in that spirit that we’re spinning “future classics” from two singular artists, Eelwax Jesus and Declan’s Well!
The genre-defying brainchild of Max Baker (soon to be seen on Broadway in Cyrano de Bergerac) and Lee Sellars (Broadway’s West Side Story, television’s ER), Eelwax Jesus has been making music since 2000. All the while, Eelwax has blurred the lines between rock and theatre. Call it alternative, call it post-punk, call it art-rock, but no matter what you call it, it’s defiantly original. Just last month, Eelwax unleashed its latest work onto an unsuspecting public, following Origami Monkeys, Naptime for the Gurus and Three. The new Welcome to Greenland offers six tracks, including (as befits The Second Disc!) a remastered version of “The Bavarian Weatherman.” Imagine if DNA samples of David Bowie, The Smiths, The Flaming Lips and Ben Folds were somehow combined into one test tube, and you’ll have a small if insufficient idea of what Eelwax Jesus is all about. The music is just one part of the whole experience, though; The Eelwax Jesus Show was developed in 2009 with The Eelwax Jesus 3-D Pop Music Show (complete with a tap-dancing vagina…seriously!) following in 2010. Guests such as Michelle Federer (Wicked), Euan Morton (Taboo) and Tony Award nominee Cristin Milioti (Once) have all taken the stage alongside Sellars and Baker, and you can hear Milioti on this track:
The band’s music on Welcome to Greenland is mordant and keenly observed, as on the acerbic, piano-led “Born in the 21st Century” (“born with a corporate logo on my head,” natch). It’s also frequently satirical and always intriguing. “Flavor of the Day” is a dark, cabaret-style excursion with offbeat humor and spoken-word interludes; at one point, the vocals even veer into Neil Young territory! The band’s theatrical bent extends to the driving, up-tempo (and instantly catchy) “Watch Me Dance” but the guitars are a-blazing with a forceful attack on “London.” Capping it all off is “The Bavarian Weatherman,” a kooky monologue delivered over an oom-pah beat. Greenland – the album, not the place – is daffy, ironic, off-kilter, aggressive, and never, ever boring. It’s a good place to start exploring the smart, fun and utterly uninhibited music of Eelwax Jesus! Here’s a little taste of Welcome to Greenland! Like what you hear? You can order the full EP here! Visit the band on Facebook!
After the jump, Mike takes you down to Declan’s Well!
Keenan Gaynor may not be a catalogue enthusiast, but he gets the value of nostalgia. It shines through in his work as electronic bandleader of Declan’s Well. His works remind fans of those pangs of small-town longing we all feel, and the warmth of others we turn toward to quell those nagging doubts.
Not that Declan’s Well has much to worry about as longing goes. Gaynor has released several EPs and full-length works under the DW moniker since 2005, getting an incredible range out of his chosen formula of samples and synthesizers with a rotating cast of vocalists for good measure. He’s got a keen sense of rhythmic impulse (he was trained as a drummer) and never lets his medium become a gimmick, recently devising organic ways to play his music live around his native New Jersey. (His recent cover of The Verve Pipe’s “The Freshman” is an interesting take on an alt-rock saw, and more proof of that nostalgic mastery.)
For his latest trick, Gaynor is taking to Kickstarter to fund the latest DW record, already in progress. It’s shaping up to be his most ambitious yet, with a vinyl release planned – and some of the incentives are pretty great. (Anyone who wants a shot at their own personal recording session with Gaynor at the boards would do well to chip in!)
There’s just under one week left to fund the last half of it, so don’t delay: this is music as honest as the many Abraham Lincolns that grace Gaynor’s discography. Declan’s Well just might be that soundtrack your small-town heart and big-time dreams have been waiting for. Enjoy this live performance of Keenan in action:
Your regularly-scheduled Second Disc programming of catalogue and reissue news and views resumes on Monday!