That old timey sound


Allow me to announce my first surefire top ten album of 2008, before ever announcing my favorites of 2007, and before even finishing my SXSW blog about discovering this band in the first place.

The band is Megafaun and the album is Bury the Square.

First let me just say, the degree to which the phrase ‘old timey‘ is dissected on urban dictionary is adorable. And familiar. I especially like the exposition on the relative old-timeyness of facial hair configurations, and the compare and contrast between the distantly related concept of retro chic. One wonders how long you could explore the usage and shades of meaning of the phrase ‘old timey’ as the sole thesis of a serious grad school paper. But I digress.

Megafaun are an Akron/Family sister band, and themselves an offshoot of another interrelated project. I didn’t know they existed until their performance on the tremendous Table of the Elements showcase at SXSW 2008. They moved me to tears with their plaintive set, full of wistful harmonizing. Now whenever I listen to their album, the memory of that emotion is pricked. And I’ve been listening to it frequently ever since.

I use the phrase old timey here loosely, and with apologies to the wordanistas over at the urban dictionary. It may not be a proper description of Megafaun in the specific musical genre sense, especially since the free-form, electrified bliss outs at the end of a couple of their songs have nothing old timey about them. But it does capture the mood of this and the Calexico/Iron & Wine song I blogged about just the other day. It is a direct descendant of vintage rural folk, and it evokes all the predictable imagery of and nostalgia for sepia-toned times predating my own.

I have an intense love for banjo and pedal steel, and will go to such great lengths to hear it as listening to country and bluegrass, when bands of those styles accidentally end up on stages I happen to be sitting near at the time. Megafaun has a song called Drains that features both, the tune of which has been on my tongue for some several weeks now. The blend of voices on this track so rich and resonant that it sinks into the throat and settles there, until the fullness of sound forces you to crack lips and sing along.

I do love Drains, but after debating it with myself for the amount of time I’ve been writing this post, I have decided to share the obvious standout track instead: Where We Belong. It is epic in every sense of the word: length, range, and majesty. It catapults out of the acoustic into a stormy, clipped electric climax, and back down to a fiddle led denouement sweeter than the best moments from the Dirty Three.

These Akron-cetera boys can do no wrong by me. It makes me want to buy up every volume of every related project out to six degrees of separation, in a mad fit of completionist abandon.

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