Lower Dens is an indie-rock quartet from Baltimore who have released two albums since forming in 2009. They’ve been described as anything from “shoegaze” to “freak-folk”. Some say that they have the “Baltimore sound”. Is that even a thing? I’m not sure that I’d talk about them in the same sentence with Wye Oak or Thrushes or Beach House.
Lower Dens is centered around Texas native Jana Hunter. She sings and plays guitar for the Dens and has released a few solo records before starting the band. All of her records and the first Dens record are on Gnomonsong Records, which was founded in 2005 by Devendra Barnhart. In fact, her first solo record — Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom was the first release on that label.
I first learned about Lower Dens a few months ago via my circle of music loving friends called The Music Geeks (Viva la Geek!). Although there was advance praise for the new record, it was the first record that piqued my interest. Since then, I have also downloaded the new record — Nootropics–, but I haven’t really sunk my teeth into it yet.
Anyway, here’s today’s song:
“A Dog’s Dick” by Lower Dens
I love the way that it opens with the chime of the guitar, and you think you’re about to set off into some land inhabited by low-fi 1960s garage bands. It’s sort of that way, but not really. Hunter’s lyrics are sparse and strange. In this song, she sings a bit like Sharon Van Etten, if she fronted a band like Yuck.
Here are the lyrics in their entirety:
Welcome home, sweep and scoop
You find a dog’s dick, what do you do?
What does that say about you?
Who you’ve become?
You get down, like a maid in gown
Seem to be like, you are still young
There can’t possibly be any meaning in that.
The chiming guitar, the thick bass, and the Mazzy Star-esque drums make it sound a little psychedelic, I guess. At 0:52, there’s a quick two-second break, then a Kim Deal-esque bass solo. I really like what follows.
Hunter and guitarist Will Adams play call-and-response for the remainder of the song. They don’t go all “Dueling Banjos” style with technically skilled play, but it’s a pretty neat thing anyway. Speaking of “Dueling Banjos”, if you ever meet my dad, you should get him to tell you about Arthur Smith.
It’s dizzying. Intoxicating. It’s a really quick two-and-a-half minutes.
I haven’t really spent much time with the new record yet, but it’s getting brilliant reviews.
For extra credit, you can watch this … um… thing. It’s a promotional video for their new single “Batman”. It’s not a music video, and it doesn’t even really feature the music at all. It’s just really damn weird. One of the weirdest things I’ve seen in a while. And trust me when I say that I’ve seen some weird shit. Take, for instance, the terrible, horrible, absolutely awful video for David Lynch’s “Crazy Clown Time”. Just don’t say that I didn’t warn you. That David Lynch thing is awful. This Lower Dens thing might not be as off-the-charts weird as that crap, but it’s weird.
Anyway, you can buy Twin-Hand Movement from the Gnomonsong web store here. They’re touring Europe now, and will be touring North America in June and July.