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On new single EDNA shows some love to the "Junkyard Dog" within us all

photo by Ada Chen

 Junkyard dogs get a bad rap. Sure, they’re prone to being mean and vicious with a spooky demonic stare just like those Rottweiler hellhounds in the Omen movies (graveyard dogs and junkyard dogs share a close bond!) but it’s very likely more often the case that the “junkyard dogs” in question are in reality more agitated and anxious than they are mean just for mean's sake, not to mention being afflicted with cataracts and living off whatever discarded scraps they can scrounge up whilst being deliberately mistreated by their owners as a means to turn them hostile and aggressive all the better to guard their master's junkyard. 

Which just goes to show how we’re all products of our environment. The Brooklyn-based four-piece Edna clearly understand the complexities at play as they’ve just released an emotive, empathetic song about a “Junkyard Dog” (Favorite Friend Records, click above to listen) and really its about time somebody did. Edna is led by singer-songwriter-guitarist Michael Tarnofsky who is noted for his “imagistic songwriting [which] drifts through crowded bars and city streets…highlight[ing] conversations between couples at the end of their ropes and strangers learning what they have in common” and who better to write a song about the "junkyard dog" that lives within us all, mangy but unmalicious, just trying to get by to the best of our abilities. Or as Mr. Tarnofsky puts it in the climatic chorus, “Yeah, I’m nervous / yeah, all the time” which only makes one feel sympathy for the poor mutt.

But it's not all down to lyrics because the shaggy dog story of Edna’s “Junkyard Dog” is just as ably conveyed though the sensitive musical strains of Nick LaFalce on bass and drums (recorded shortly before drummer Andrew Rahm joined up) with Justin Mayfield also on guitar. And you can just tell the song is going to hit you “right there” right from its opening moments with the boys in the band building an understated-yet-ornate citadel of sorrow constructed piece-by-piece from a mere electric piano drone, strummed acoustic chords, chiming guitar harmonics, woozy drums ‘n’ bass and an insistent bent-note guitar figure that’s less bark and more (emotional) bite that sounds for all the world like a dog’s mournful moan at the moon. 

And so when the lyrics enter declaring that “if God’s living in me / he’d better start paying rent” you already understand the mindset at play and anyway who wants the Almighty squatting in his or her head especially if He’s just gonna leave it all junked up with “Guitar World magazines and old cigarettes” and it’s no wonder when it comes to the song’s haunted subject “you can talk in your sleep, bark like a junkyard dog / tell a lie like Marvin Gaye sings a song” because let's be frank who wouldn't react this way under such difficult circumstances and check out that cool little fury-collapsing-in-on-itself-in-futile-form guitar line that literally depicts the “bark” in question which says it all really.

Final "fun fact" side note: The familiar image of the savage junkyard dog was in no small part popularized though Jim Croce’s 1973 #1 hit single “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” which depicts its title subject as an alpha male from the South Side of Chicago (“the baddest man in the whole damn town / badder than old King Kong / and meaner than a junkyard dog”) who nonetheless gets his comeuppance in the final stanza. And with no disrespected intended toward the deceased, or to another great songwriter to boot, we owe it to Edna for rehabilitating the image of the junkyard dog as more being akin to Old Yeller after getting bitten by a rabid wolf than to the devilish Cereberus standing guard at the gates of Hades. (Jason Lee)

N.B. Edna celebrates the release of "Junkyard Dog," the first in a series of singles to be released in the coming months, with a live show on Friday, May 13th (tickets HERE) alongside Atlas Engine, Matilde Heckler, and Kayla Silverman at The Broadway.

   

Indie Rock

Time: 
19:00
Band name: 
Ryan Egan
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/thisryanegan
Venue name: 
Union Pool
Band email: 
   

Oceanator says "Don't Worry, Maybe" on LP number two, Nothing's Ever Fine

Photo by Alex Joseph

The artist known as Oceanator lives up to her moniker on Nothing’s Ever Fine (Polyvinyl Record Co.), the Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist’s second full-length release—co-produced with her brother/longtime bandmate Mike Okusami as well as Bartees Strange—an album that rolls in on a gentle tide of arpeggiated guitar and loping drums before a crashing wave of power chords and glistening melody disrupts the dewy vibe of the opening track “Morning,” a tidal dynamic that’s also at play on the album’s final track “Evening” which depicts the “sky fad[ing] from black to red” in a waltz-time arrangement utilizing acoustic guitar, Mellotron, a choir of cicadas, and a final burst of sonic fireworks akin to that great yellow-red orb of ours putting on a fiery light show just before it slips under the oceanic horizon.

In other words, this is an album that captures both the ocean’s shimmering translucent beauty (see: the outro to “Summer Rain”) and its sheer, unforgiving raw power (see: “Post Meridian”/“Stuck”) and you’d best keep an eye out for its dark emotional undertow too (e.g., “Bad Brain Daze”) which can suck you under at a moment’s notice.



And just in case you think I’m blowing smoke up your funnel (who me?!) the high tide/low tide oceanic theme is made explicit in more than a few of the record’s lyrics which contrast, for instance, the American Pastorale of driving out to the beach with a “cherry coke and crumpled bag of french fries lying on the passenger seat” with the more fatalistic admission that “by the ocean is where I wanna be / when this all comes to an end / crack a cold one and watch the tsunamis come / surrounded by my friends” sung over a buoyant power-pop arrangement. 

This arresting mix of escapism and fatalism fits neatly within Elise Okusami aka Oceanator’s self-professed love of science fiction writing, in particular as authored by Black female writers, a literary genre known for exploring the extremes of utopian/dystopian thinking—consider for instance Octavia Butler’s deft interweaving of humanism and hope with her prescient depiction of this century’s convergence of climate crisis and reactionary politics in her two Parable novels written in the ‘90s—and it’s not hard to see why various protagonists on Nothing’s Ever Fine express the desire to “strike out on our own / trying to find a new home” allowing that “all I wish, all I want / is to be on another planet with you.” (Jason Lee)

Oceanator kicks off a 22-date national tour in Phoenix on May 20th, and plays seven dates across the UK in late August and early September.

   

Punk

Time: 
19:00
Band name: 
War On Women
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/WarOnWomen
Venue name: 
The Kingsland
Band email: 
   

Punk

Time: 
20:00
Band name: 
Heavy Lag
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
https://www.facebook.com/heavylag
Venue name: 
Purgatory
Band email: