Rhythm & Views


Saddle Creek bands are not so much bands as projects, featuring one or two people running the show and any number of helpers, most of whom play in other Saddle Creek projects. Mayday is Ted Stevens' (Cursive, Lullaby for the Working Class) project, and Bushido Karaoke, their third and best album yet, is entirely about the importance of these sorts of community music projects--it may not save the world, but as Stevens sings on "Rock and Roll Can't Save Your Life," "It just might save the night."

"Bushido" is an old, unwritten code of ethics for samurai; pairing it with a word like "karaoke" invokes an old-world-meets-new-world theme, which Mayday plays out by searching elements of the past (first-generation rock 'n' roll formulas, for example) for answers to contemporary problems. They even cover INXS' "Old World New World," with banjos and fiddle. "World spirit, world spirit, come out of your cave," sings Stevens alongside anti-tribal harmonica on "Continental Grift," "please explain to us why we were born."

David Rawlings and Gillian Welch's "I'm Not Afraid to Die" fits in beautifully here, as does "Dave D. Blues," written in the voice of indie-folk troubadour David Dondero. "Exquisite Corpse" (which is also the name of a surrealist poetry game) has Stevens singing about using his bones to make music. It all makes for an apocalyptic hoedown, Saddle Creek-style, with intelligent abandon--everything's all right, at least for the night, as long as there's a musical project in the works.