The world is flat, right, we all know that. The world is also very small. The latest example of that is this: I have a good friend in Brooklyn who has a pretty expert grasp on my taste in, well, most things, or at the very least books, movies and music. We don’t always agree (that would get boring!) but when we disagree, it’s usually for a reason that’s worth discussing (with the exceptions of those times when Toby just kind of nods, folds his arms in a friendly way and says, “Hrm” in a tone that simultaneously expresses bafflement and shows it’s non-judgemental bafflement).
The thing about having a friend with a really good grasp on your taste is that, should that friend be inclined to gift-giving, they give you really good gifts. My birthday/Giftmas package this year included a book that’d been recently written up in the Portland Mercury and thus caught my attention, and a CD by a band I’d never heard of before: The Narrator. “Hrm,” I thought. “It’s on Flameshovel, and so was that Bound Stems album I effing loved last year. Toby must be on to something.”
At first, I was a little skeptical. Angular boy rock, woohoo! (This is said with both love and a tiny bit of wink-nudge derision.) But then I got to the track that only has two lines, which I heard as, “All the tired horses in the sun / How’m I s’posed to get any writing done?”
You smartypants readers already know this is a Bob Dylan cover, and that it actually says “ridin’,” not “writing.” But I didn’t know that (until just now, actually). I heard “writing.” Awesome. Sold. You win, The Narrator! You win with a cover I didn’t even know was a cover, because of the approximately 7,392 Bob Dylan albums on our CD wall, I’ve never pulled down Self-Portrait.
It wasn’t just this that made me finally fall for the album; it was the half-finished sound of the vocals, which fall somewhere between melodic talking, the occasional singalong and a few grumpy shouts; it was the way the record sounds like a Chicago band record (even though the Flameshovel website is quick to point out that none of the band members are actually from Chicago); it was the way the melodies wove and tumbled. It was a lot of those things that are hard to put into words, especially when you’re at a desk and the damn CD is in the car.
So what does this have to do with it being a small world? Simple: the first thing I did, when I got this CD, was look at the band members’ names. Why? I dunno. It sounded like a band an ex-roommate of Toby’s would be in, even though said ex-roommate is in a totally different band. For whatever reason, I looked. And who should turn up in the liner notes but EW’s newest music freelancer, Jeremy Ohmes, who plays keyboards on a few songs.
It’s a small world after all.