david kenneth nance - "lets argue"
oh me. david is one of them pukes from prairies...he spins it up good. i was gona throw this pony down in the murk...then i meat david, and he spark it all up again. this tape take faux-country tinge, it make it eat itself. pour on some wet water ridden crams...you know the feeling. just listen. you wont be sorry.
"letters 1 & 2"
"who eats who now?"
"in her kingdom"
"leather in the box"
Nance has played in a few different bands in Omaha, one of which was called The Prairies, who also did a tape for Unread a few years ago. Currently, Nance also plays in the Simon Joyner line-up with some of the other Prairies members. The first song, Letters 1 & 2, starts off with a woman speaking in a southern accent saying, �This is the first letter that I wrote back home to mommy and daddy a few days after I�d moved to Nashville.� The woman continues talking about being homesick, Nashville, etc. as the music enters made up of what sounds like a harmonica, synth, bass, gentle feedback. The music is kind of in a droning fashion. As the spoken word finishes, some electric guitar and drums enters playing some garage/blues riffs. Unread describes it as �faux-country� and I also get a slight rockabilly impression. The electric guitar gets kind of wildly noisey and free-form towards the end of the song. There�s then some electronic synth wash droning bout for small period of time. The second song, Joanie, has a similar garage rock vibe, except a bit more down tempo and with a swing feel. Once this finishes there�s strange kind of blown out synth in a droning fashion with some electronic pulses that could be a bass. It plays only for a very short time until more rock rhythms and sounds enter again, starting the third song, �Who Eats Who Now?�. The next song, Nebraska Plains, has a softer feel with some background synths droning, rising up and down underneath some acoustic guitar strumming. The first song on Side B, In Her Kingdom, features a pretty groovy jam in a psych rock kind of way. The song ends with what sounds like wind recorded and maybe some synth wash. Again, this is only for a short time until the drums and electric guitar start rocking away, seeming to be a musical theme throughout the album. This is the second song on Side B, Leather In the Box, which features some more groovin� garage jams. Overall a pretty groovy release I�d say. - VIRTUAL RITUAL
* * *
I don't generally hear much stuff that's coming out of Nebraska so Unread Records's relocation to Omaha is a damn good thing for me. If it weren't for the move I might have never heard this killer tape by David Kenneth Nance that features, among other things, one of the best songs of the year.
Let's Argue appears to be a total bedroom/basement concoction--Nance plays all the instruments ("various synths, guitars, drums and other broken shit,") writes and sings the songs etc.--but what I really love is this tape sounds like it was made by a band. It often sounds like some friends cranking it up and going to town in one of their subterranean dwellings.
"Letters 1&2" begins with a sample of Dolly Parton reading letters she sent to her parents over guitar drones and harmonica exhalations until launching into a 50s rock & roll throwback ditty imbued with the nihilistic vibe of 80s punk. Sets the tone for sure. A messy synth interlude bridges the gap into the lonesome "Joanie." Slowly cycling guitar arpeggios ease the track forward eventually leading to the waltzing chorus of "Joanie hold on/It won't be long/Before you can finally rest your head/Joanie stay strong/The church is wrong/Confession is giving in." Despite the acoustic jangle, the track sounds surprisingly raw and aggressive due to Nance's scaled-back snarl and fizzy production values.
"Who Eats Who Now?" is a jagged, rudimentary punk track featuring a percussive three-chord slash and a seriously great dueling guitar riff that makes its appearance halfway through. Nance's occasionally lethargic, low drawl provides an interesting counterpoint to the insect-swarm guitar and cymbal sizzle. The mostly acoustic ballad "Nebraska Plains" is backed with a swirling synth and features a weird auto-wah guitar solo as well. It's a gentle, sardonic pro-Nebraska ballad ("When nuclear war first starts in NYC and when San Francisco lies in the sea/You'll know you never should have laughed at me") in which Nance takes shots at the Rockie mountains, tall buildings, subway trains and the ocean while professing his preference for Nebraska's plains. If he didn't say "shit" in the song the Nebraska tourism office would snap it right up.
The intertwined guitar melodies that introduce "In Her Kingdom" are reminiscent of 60s jangle-pop via 90s college rock and it's a pretty nice piece of work. The track shifts into a sort of Velvets-style rev up before hitting the chorus once more and then launching into a memorable closing refrain of "In my kingdom of shit."
The tape slips into a fantastic, spacey keyboard interlude that, in turn, slips into a killer bass riff that just screams "shit is about to go down." "Leather in the Box" is one of the best songs I've heard all year, simply love the motherfucker. The aforementioned bass provides a chunky line that's alternately ominous and catchy but, even more importantly, the guitar provides a simple but thoroughly unnerving melody that wormed its way deep into my skull on first impact. They form the perfect backing track for Nance's portrait of the life of a gimp. He sings: "Yeah, I'm sick of these games where my ass is the prize/Yeah, I'm naked on the floor and they beat me til I die/Well, no safety words for me, at least not tonight." You can smell the leather. Sealed by the rollicking chorus of "I'm just a gimp at night/Locked up so tight/No need to fight/I'm just a gimp at night" Nance has penned one of the great S&M-themed rock & roll songs in history. Overall its sound fits somewhere between The Country Teasers and The Velvet Underground--and not just because of "Venus in Furs."
"The Manger," which closes the tape, is another great track. Nance, sounding like a midwestern Leonard Cohen, tells his version of the life of Christ; beginning with the teenage years. While maybe not the "loudest" song, it is the most bombastic and pushes the meter further into the red than any other song on the cassette.
Unread is doing its thing providing great lo-fi pop, rock and folk gems and there's a bit of all that on this tape. Nance is a really good songwriter and this album has grown on me with each successive listen. He navigates a variety of styles, which never seem out of place next to each other, culminating in a particularly cohesive set of songs. On top of that, Nance knows how to record and produce his shit perfectly--there's exactly the right dose of scuzz on each track. Dude's the total package. Definitely lend an ear to this. Available from Unread - AUXILARY OUT
* * *
While reading about the forthcoming Simon Joyner double album, Ghosts, I came across a Simon Joyner interview at Hear Nebraska (via the blog We Are All Portals) in which he mentions a few bands and releases he’s been digging lately. Figuring he’s a guy with some pretty discerning tastes, I checked out what I could and was particularly psyched to hear a song from a cassette release by Joyner’s fellow Omaha resident (and occasional bandmate), David Kenneth Nance. The album is Let’s Argue and the song is “Leather in the Box,” an ominous, skull-digger of a basement-dweller jam that brings to mind a slightly more sedate take on The Fall’s twisted, post-punk grooves and a darker version of Jon Wayne’s off-kilter country punk - LOS GRILLOS