New Bums: Voices in a Rented RoomBy Brian Mock
Going back to basics can be a radical move. Ben Chasny has spent the last 15 years churning out impressive avant (mostly) acoustic albums as Six Organs of Admittance (think of an indie and experimental John Fahey), while rocking out on the side with Comets on Fire and Rangda.
For this new project, Chasny has teamed up with Donovan Quinn of psych-folksters Skygreen Leopards for what at first comes across as a rather straight-ahead set of subdued strumming and vocal harmonizing.
Quinn's presence is immediately detected, especially on songs like "Mother's Favorite Hated Son" and "Sometimes You Crash." However, "Welcome to the Navy," with its haunting ghostlike background vocals, and the Fahey-like fingerpicking of "Burned," could have been on any of the last few Six Organs records and give Voices a bit more depth.
Voices is not without its outside influences. Take the nod to T. Rex on the minimalist boogie of "Your Bulls**t" or the vocal harmonizing of "Black Bough."
Finally, it's hard to ignore the lyrics. They are often so dark and funny, one wonders whether these Bums are just goofin' between putting out their respective next records. This isn't to suggest this is not a fun or enjoyable listen. In both cases, it will be interesting to see if they renew their lease.