SHUFFLER 0042: FROM SUCH A VOCAL CHORDED FAMLY
Thursday, October 23, 2014
The Holy Childhood – “I Better Be Careful or I’ll Be Understood by Everybody” from Up With What I’m Down With (2000 Gern Blandsten)
I don’t fully understand the Leo family tree, I’ll be honest, but I sort of feel like maybe they are the New Jersey equivalent of the Mackayes. Ted Leo, I’ve explained, is a hero of mine, and has at least two brothers, I think, who are in bands. Ian Mackaye, of course, is the low king of the Dischord empire and has been involved in a good number of projects there. And with the Mackayes, it’s the same deal — brothers in bands on the label. In both cases, I’m a little jealous. I like the idea of having punk rock siblings in punk rock bands, and imagine going to shows together and all that fun stuff. To be fair it’s hardly a gaping hole in my heart or anything like that, I just think it seems like a nice little deal.
What’s especially great, in this case, is that the Leos come from such a vocal chorded family. Ted’s voice, of course, is somewhat legendary, but brother Danny Leo’s vocal chops in the Holy Childhood are pretty wonderful as well (and is this the same brother that sings for the Van Pelt? No, it turns out. That’s Chris Leo, who was also in Native Nod and the Lapse and Vague Angels, most of whom are wonderful and will no doubt show up here in time).
The vocals may actually save the day here, because otherwise it’s a strange tune that begins with a keyboard trying to sound like a piano and reminds one of Ben Folds Five if they were somewhat more indie rocking. Or something. Later there are saxophones and drums and guitar and bass and trumpet and what is all in all a nice enough song structure. And those soaring Leo vocals.
I’m not entirely sure what the lyrics are about and unfortunately was not able to locate lyrics or a video online, so once again this amounts to a fairly paltry and more or less unhelpful entry, so congratulations on having stumbled upon it. I will say, though, that this is an album I probably wouldn’t give nearly the chance that I gave to this were it not for the connection to the Leo family and its appearance on Gern Blandsten Records. That’s the kind of thing that happens more often than I’d like and makes me feel a little snobbish, but it’s true, and I’m glad, in the end, that I was able to give something kind of nutty a chance. This is likely not for everybody, but again, you’ll never know unless you really take a gamble, because again, no video. Great album and song titles, though, so if that’s any further motivation, go forth and download.