She’s rolling around, she’s under the ground

OK, here’s some new music.

Well, I say “new”, it’s still not exactly hot off the press. New to me, shall we say, new-ish.

The Double U

I’m (again) surprised at how many bands there are calling themselves the Double U – at least three at first glance. What’s going on? Are all the good names taken? Portland’s the Double U, however, are unlikely to be confused with many other bands. A quick listen to the mp3s will be all it takes …

Led by husband and wife team Matt Hall and Alex Behr, and backed by drummer Geoff Soule, they play a quirky mix of show tunes and dreamy pop, all mixed up with some sort of Eastern European influence, Klezmer, I think. The web site talks about guitars, keyboards and bass, but I can hear far more exotic instrumentation in there – strings and tubas and the like. It’s all rather arcane and beautiful.

The most striking thing about the Double U sound has to be Matt Hall’s vocals though. “Gruff” would be an understatement, more like a kind of soft howl, if you can imagine that. The obvious comparison is Tom Waits, but much more interesting (and not at all irritating). On top of this, as well as the extreme… er… throatiness of the singing, it’s also almost completely impossible to pick many of the words. The band’s website refers to them as some sort of Vikings (I don’t think we’re talking death metal, or burning down churches), which made me think that they’re actually singing in Icelandic or something, but there are snatches of English. Who knows? Actually this doesn’t bother me. If I’m listening to something as weird as this, it’s OK, all bets are off; you might as well go the whole hog…

The Double u are another Emperor Jones band, and released their fifth album, Hibou Mechanique, last October, although by then had moved onto Geoff Soule’s own label, the superbly named Supermegacorporation. The previous four are, I believe, no longer available but there is this rather bizarre shared offering on Emusic, which is also worth getting.

There are a bunch of mp3s around to be snagged, some from Emperor Jones and some from Supermegacorporation, and I would heartily recommend you take them. Get a slice of something endearingly out of the ordinary, this week…

Great Deceiver

Harpoon

Ephemeral Epaulet

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