Gardens — the newest project from the dudes who brought you the joys of the Genders — share a natty urban-underbelly garage savoir faire with '90s NYC heartthrobs Jonathan Fire*Eater, featuring thumping Velvets-y whomp and strum that sounds like a Bohemian amateur dance party night gone extremely right. I caught 'em first at the opening for the Broadcast show where they had Silverghost's Marcie Bolen and area coiffureist and scene-maker Shelby Murphy shaking tambourine and booty. And, to be honest, in the bunker-like sonic chamber of the MOCAD, they came off as simultaneously too-amped, same-y and beguiling. But the recordings found at their MySpace page make for an experience that — if I may recant or comment upon my earlier comparison — would make Billy Childish proud, if only for their level of raw commitment. Gardens in streaming form show off the subtle dynamics that were trying to get through live. They now sound like a band that I'd much rather see in a bar while half-loaded on gin — or, more probably, listen to in my living room with my computer's speakers hooked up and half-loaded on gin. Here's to killing first impressions!
Sorry. I'm not trying to compare Lazrus, the new project of area sonic craftsman Daniel Johnson (Judah Johnson) to Nick Cave in any way, save for their shared use of the Bible character's name. In Johnson's case, he appears to be using it to connote a sort of rebirth of his songwriting spirit. And that rebirth is amply documented at his blog. Hell, in an entry from Sept. 25, he even makes reference to being "buried in the studio" with his bass pal Pino Palladino. So, anyway, Lazrus, the blog, is ostensibly about Johnson making music for and by himself. And the jams available here (many to be released under the Lazrus moniker sometime in the presumably near future) are about as far afield from the massive side of Judah Johnson's big-band indie-pop swell and crash and soar but very close to the heart of Johnson's gift for intimacy and invention. If the gorgeous tune "Arrows 4 Ever" is any indication, this should be some kinda special. And although the blog is chock-full of Johnson's singular introspection, humor and solid writing — and the jams are undoubtedly powered by him — he's accompanied by members of Eons and has been aided and abetted by High Bias studios mainman Chris Koltay, among others. Heck, the cover art (and some of the musical accompaniment) is provided by the lately ubiquitous Trevor Naud (see also Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship, Zoos of Berlin, Pas/Cal, etc.). Again, take some time for yourself and see what Johnson's doing for himself.
OK, so it's not locally made, but I couldn't pass up the chance for you to be the 923,145th person to witness the fitness that is a twistedly rad a cappella John Williams tribute. This kid filmed four versions of himself singing, beatboxing, humming and making otherworldly sounds while re-creating the themes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones and Jaws ... but all with his own abstract-y, free-association take on lyrics based on Star Wars characters. C'mon, indulge both me and your inner geek!
You're welcome, by the way!