Sleep , the second CD on Bar/None Records from Drink Me, that is - 17 new songs from the acoustic duo Request magazine called "a tonic for the New Depression."
On Sleep Mark Amft (Fanta bottle, etc.) and Wynne Evans (acoustic guitar) continue to amuse, amaze, and delight. If their 1992 Bar/None debut release Drink Me was "the quietest rock & roll ever made", then perhaps Sleep contains some of the most rollicking lullabies ever recorded. Almost a concept album, images of beds, dreams, sleeping, late-night reveries and early-morning woes run throughout the record. Several songs employ introspective interludes which the band describes as "dream sequences".
As they did on "Cherry Pie" , their single from 1993, and NYC, a five-song EP released last March by The Hello Recording Club, Drink Me continue to expand their signature sound. The occassional additions of bass guitar, farfisa organ and drums fill out some songs without overpowering their character. Listen closely and you'll also hear E-bowed amplified acoustic guitar, bowed xylophone, "Dipsy Doodle corn chip bag", and other exotica.
Illustrious guest artists include Don Christensen (The Contortions) on drums, Kurt Hoffman (Band of Weeds, They Might Be Giants) on bass clarinet and baritone sax, Henry Hample (Washboard Jungle) on fiddle, Brian Dewan on his electric zither, and the fine accordion playing of Will Holshouser. The muted trumpet of Adam Sobel, featured on "Drink Me" and "Cherry Pie" , returns.
Despite such muscle, the band retains the simple sweetness of its debut release, described as having "the charm and intimacy of an old 78" by Musician magazine. Note especially the poignant "Song of the Ice Cream Truck", with its familiar urban summer melody, delicately performed on guitar, fiddle and bells, and the beautifully odd and funny "Tiny Saxophone". A Cajun flavored accordion propels "Old King Wenceslaus", and the band rocks out (so to speak) on the psychedelic influenced "Waterbed". Their cover of James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)", arranged by Will Holshouser for accordion, fiddle and ukulele, is not to be missed.
So don't be caught napping! If you're searching for an alternative to Alternative Rock, check out "some of the saddest and most beautiful music ever made" New York Press. Turn out the lights, tuck under the covers, and get yourself some Sleep .
Drink Me is a two-man acoustic band. Mark Amft sings lead vocals and alternates playing Fanta bottle (ridged you see, and played like a South American guiro), ukelele, slide guitar, accordion, tambourine and kazoo. Wynne Evans plays guitar and sings harmonies. Drink Me started in 1986. The band was originally conceived as a sort of experimental hard-core duo, inspired by the likes of Flipper and Pere Ubu. Mark sang and played drums and Wynne played electric guitar. After indulging in this type of delivery for a period of time, they figured a more genial approach would better get their craft across. A shift was in order.
After hearing The Nairobi Sound, a record of dry guitar bands from Kenya, they went acoustic. For the past couple of years they have been performing as such; shining light on generally untouched subjects like singing clams, Grant's tomb and barnacled whales to the unadulterated delight of New York audiences. Their very theatrical live performances also stress flexibility. They are often times joined by other players on clarinet, fiddle, bass saxophone, banjo, etc......the permutations are endless like a dance hall cut-up session from a couple decades ago.
They recorded their debut album with Fernando Kral, who has engineered and mixed for the Talking Heads, Peter Murphy and Janes Addiction. With the help of trumpet, trombone and mandolin, the fifteen original songs on this album move comfortably and quickly through folk, jazz, rock and country music. With one song's exception, there are no electric instruments played here. Besides the one snare drum Mark plays without sticks on "Thank the Lord", there are no drums either. Just some subtle and sweet soul music from the coffer of the unknown.
In a nutshell, live and on record these folks extract perfectly the animal world beauty of great old-time standards written just yesterday. Kick back, unplug and have a stiff one on us. Hell, have a couple.