What’s this? This is what happens when you listen to a bunch of folk and folk-rock and you start thinking musically inside this folky frame. You pick up a guitar and that’s all that comes out. You sing like this naturally and your lyrics are so insane, you can be sure no one will ever try to understand what it is you are actually talking about, although there are plenty of deep-sounding emotional one-liners. This stuff is addictive, it can consume hundreds of hours of your life listening to people none of your friends ever heard about, listening to sounds produced by these tortured souls of which you either don’t know anything or you know only little bits of quirky information, like “his dog was ran over and his girlfriend turned out to be a dude”.
That might be just a shell though, provided by instrumentation. There is a lot of influence from 90’s alternative rock as well, somehow in the melodies, in the musical structure, but mostly in the electric guitar parts that embellish the acoustic guitar’s simple but effective background. All of us guys who grew up in the 90’s are starting to make music and it shows where we came from. The feeling and the lyrics are folk though, it’s not like I have to rewrite the first paragraph or anything.
So who is this James Lewis Speed guy? Google doesn’t care about him and all his bandcamp says is stuff like “It was recorded with a very crummy acoustic”, that it was all recorded over 2 days “because of his father” and that some of the lyrics are about his friends. All I have to work with is the music and that’s just golden. This is not the place to grow even more tired of bullshit celebrity dick-riding in your music reviews. Following my folk instincts though, I went look for lyrical clues of a personal tragedy of some kind. So I saw “I am Morals” and I thought, oh, maybe he has morals and that’s the problem. But not really, the song is just as crazy as most of the other ones. When you start thinking you now understand what is going on he says something like “Says the large unfiltered chorus” and you go “lolwut?”.
His strong is emotional vocal harmonies, that’s kind of why you would listen to this. Seems to be him singing with himself by means of the wonders of technology. There can only be so many tricks of emotional harmonizing vocals, so the reason why some of these vocal works don’t sound cliche is because the recording is so crude. Just like most of Brian Jonestown Massacre sounded dated, but not really because it had so much raw power that it ended up sounding retro instead.
So if you really dig folk and home recorded crazy confessional stuff, go on and listen to the whole thing. If you are here just for a quick fix, I’ll tell you what, these are the best tracks: “Call me transcendental” might be the one that sounds more like 90’s rock, followed by “You crack me up” and “Walking really weird”. Oh fuck I have just realized what this guy was remembering me of! Quasi’s album Field Studies, which is one of my favorites ever. Pitchfork gave it 6.3, those fucking maggots, that album is perfect.
Aforementioned “I am morals” is good also, but “A dead animal in my arms” is better, the lyrics go “no need to taste the engine”, “vomit in the sun”, it’s just so likable! Leaving all objectivity aside – like it wasn’t there already – I think my favorite is “All my best friends”, because it sort of freaks out: “Oh look, serendipity crucified the throw out elbow, and it’s still a shock” and then something about robots winning something. Great stuff.