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Bummer, Dudes

New Bums apply a lo-fi Simon and Gar-fuck-it take to the tired old trope of two dudes with guitars. “We’re pretty stripped down with an emphasis on words,” Ben Chasney, of New Bums, tells EW via email.  

On the duo’s Drag City Records debut Voices in a Rented Room, Ben Chasney (also of music project Six Organs of Admittance) and Donovan Quinn (of The Skygreen Leopards) unlock the wonder-power of vocal harmony alongside acoustic guitars like ultimate astro-boy Marc Bolan or king of the ’60s-era acid-folk hippies, Donovan. 

Chasney says on the group’s blog he and Quinn had been fooling around for about five years when, last year, in the parlance of any good post-’90s slacker, the duo “got serious (I guess).” He continues, “Living in San Francisco for a few years, down the street from [Quinn] was one of the more rewarding times in my life. I learned a lot about writing words.”

Melancholy Rented Room album-track “Black Bough” starts with slow burning chord changes recalling Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Soon, gentle vocals launch into psychedelic imagery: “There’s a black bough at my window,” and other depressed and stoned observations like a San Francisco hipster on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

“The Killers and Me” is a sun-scorched desperado cowboy ballad.  But lyrically, instead of the old west, the track is all free-association LSD freak-out, e.g., “There we were sittin’ in a circle, the killers and me/ Dressed for Halloween Catholic girls circa 2143.” 

Indie booker DIY Eugene presents San Fran’s New Bums with Eugene’s Lady Paw and Portland’s Murmur Ring 8 pm Friday, April 11, at The Boreal, 450 W. 3rd; $7.