Wednesday, 12 November 2008

None Of This Is New, But None Of It Is Getting Old

New music is cool. But sometimes scouring Myspace for the next unheardofsupercooltotallygroundbreaking band that you can impress your friends with becomes a bit of an obsession and it's time to return to those people who outlast the latest fad, the people that told you what music was before you started wearing ironic t-shirts (I like animals. And what?). With that in mind, I've decided to do a series of posts that do just that. None of the music you read about here will be brand new, it just never got old.

Part One: Jeffrey Lewis

I know it's totally unhip to have heroes, but Jeffrey Lewis is one of my heroes. Yes, I have several heroes, not all of whom are real. I can't really explain what exactly I find heroic about him, I guess it might have something to do with feeling a bit of an affinity with him, but there no doubting - Jeff Lewis Rules. I realise that every slightly disaffected, Moldy Peaches loving, comic book geek feels exactly the same way, but hey, those guys know what they're talking about.

Lewis' music cuts the crap; it does away with fancy production and strips away all the layers of polish that so much music clings to until all that we're left with is all that really counts - wonderfully fragile songs, both endearing and totally witty at the same time. Self-conscious musical dickweeds with very little in between their ears other than a vast library of other people opinions often say of music that it 'really speaks' to them. Usually this makes me vomit a little, but with Jeffrey Lewis there's no getting away from it; he speaks to you, literally. Listening to Jeff sing is something more akin to having a quiet conversation than listening to someone sing. The man has stories to tell you and I'll be damned if I don't want to listen to and whole-heartedly believe every word. To write these songs off purely as "Anti-Folk" is, I think, to entirely underestimate them (Mainly because the term "Anti-Folk" is an entirely useless one, seeing as how most music that is given that tag is anything but against folk music. If anything, it embraces it).

Did I mention that he also draws and writes his own comic book? Well, he does. It's called "Fuff" and it's full of stories and travelogues ( a diary of his travels in Europe spans six of the seven issues that currently exist) that manage to translate the spirit of his music into print. I have this great little story about this time I went a Jeffrey Lewis show and dropped comic books in my crotch and apologised and gave me a free one because I said 'Hey! Don't worry! It's one of the better things I've had thrown at my crotch recently' and he found it funny, but that's for another time. Ask me if you want to hear it.

I guess I was never really going to write even-handedly about a guy I started out by calling a hero of mine and if anyone wants to come back at me with something that says 'Hey, Ollie! You're wrong, this is what I think about Jeffrey Lewis...' then I'd be totally happy, but for anyone who's yet form an opinion then, of course, the best place to start is by listening to his music. Jeffrey Lewis records are not a rare comodity -he's released no less than 19 albums since 1997, including his most recent, 12 Crass Songs, an album made up entirely of covers of songs by the 80s anarchist punk band Crass - but my personal favourite is one called It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through. Here's a song from it:

Jeff Lewis - Back When I was 4



P.S. Sorry, this is really long.

1 comment:

Caitlin said...

I love Jeff Lewis - he played in Brighton and my friend supported, we were all right at the front singing along :) You're right, his music really does speak to you, however corny that may sound. He's incredible!