Punk n roll channeling the sort of AM radio sounds that probably inspired the Heartbreakers or the Dictators, or the more rockin' moments of Big Star. None of those name-drops are very accurate in describing Nancy, though. For a style that's been done to death for the past 60+ years, it amazes me that a band could come up with tunes that sink in as deep as these ones do. Really though I don't spend much time thinking about influences or the merits of 'originality' when I'm listening to this, because the songs quickly make that shit irrelevant. And there are some serious earworms on here -- just try to remove "Midnight" or "Malt Licker" from your head once you've heard 'em. Hands down, this is one of the best releases of 2013.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
This tape was in my mailbox last week so here I am telling you about it. Michael Wohl plays folk/blues in a style that's not usually touched by anyone under the age of 70. That's not a slight; what I mean is when you hear the term 'folk' these days your mind's more likely to conjure Joni Mitchell or Dylan (or, if you're a tool, Fleet Foxes or some such lifeless swill), and 'blues' is understood to be even more sonically restricting. My point here is that a long time ago, folk and blues were understood to be one and the same, and it was in fact redundant to call it by both names. Anyway, the sounds on here are of that school, solo guitar music channeling the likes of Skip James, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and John Fahey. In fact the fourth tune, the traditional 'Poor Boy Long Ways from Home,' borrows from an arrangement by Fahey.
Growing up, I heard quite a bit of folk and blues from the latter half of the 20th century, but once in a while my dad would put on something closer to this, and I always found it mesmerizing. The pure moods distilled into self-accompanied chord melodies have a transportive quality. There's a fear in me that despite the all-encompassing archival nature of the internet, music like this is at risk of being lost. So I'm glad Wohl is out there, still making it heard. Maybe it'll move some of you to pick up a guitar and learn to play like John Hurt.