It was John Darnielle’s dirty, fizzley, basement-boom-box recordings that first trained me to turn a deaf ear to scrappy guitar and to love music that did little more than tell a damn fine story. The Mountain Goats’ early recordings are the music that macheted the way for what would come into my headphones after: anti-folk. (They are also partially to blame for the folk punk, but that’s another story.)
Anti-folk music covers a whole range of sounds, but generally it’s silly and irreverent. It usually isn’t the pristine guitar licks or a perfect melody, but the detailed, satirical lyrics that take center stage. Though a lot of music snobs have a hard time getting past the musical hollowness of much of the genre, I fucking love it. LOVE IT. As a singer and a writer it was always the melodies and the lyrics that got me anyway. Kimya Dawson is one of the genre’s royalty. Jeffrey Lewis is another favorite of mine. And then there’s Phoebe Kreutz.
I discovered Phoebe Kreutz’s music quite by accident. Back when we used to be called Black Diamond Express Train to Hell, we played a show in Cologne with her. She was awesome. We played another show with her, years later, in Mainz. She was still awesome. Her lyrics were hilarious and tight. She wrote songs about books (A Bad Feeling About Anna Karenina and The Lonesomest Dove on the F). She wrote songs about straight edge kids and her ass and Queen Elizabeth and a lesbian cowgirl and someone pooping on her doorstep. All of which were hilarious and fantastic. We (being the Black Diamonds) quickly became the people at the show who could sing along to all the songs.
Well, Phoebe is back in Germany, on tour with her trumpeting companion Matt Colbourn. Last night at No.2 Records in Frankfurt Sachsenhausen they played a few ditties while the Beard and I distracted Baby Pickles by letting her flip through the rows of CDs and plastic-covered vinyl. And while they were playing, I realized that one of Phoebe’s newer songs is perfect for the apocalypse mix tape I’m always making in my head.
The apocalypse mix tape isn’t the sort of mix tape I’d play at the arrival of the end times. It is the sort of tape I’d play now, while thinking about the end times. The sort of tape filled with songs about the end times. Post apocalyptic lit for your ears. And sitting here this morning working on a blog about the concert for another website, I realized that cataloguing and sharing these songs would make a fun weekly addition to Click Clack Gorilla. So here we are, lalalalalalaLA!
Phoebe’s addition to the mix tape is a song called The Day the Basement Flooded. It starts with her basement in New York flooding, and ends with the thought that, well hell, if the world ends, I want to be with you, baby. You wouldn’t think it would be possible to write a totally sweet, upbeat end times love song, but she did it. Apocalypse or not, it is one of the sweetest love songs I’ve heard in a while. One of my favorite lines:
“If the planet floods I think our little basement probably is screwed. We should move to higher ground in like a dryer latitude. And I will be in charge of weeping, you’re in charge of finding food. Cause the future’s pretty scary, and it may not be so great. But if the end of times is coming then I’m glad I’ve got a date. If we have to stat a new world cause the current one’s a dud, I hope that you’ll be with me in the flood.”
So have a watch. Listen closely to the lyrics. Enjoy.
While I’m selling Phoebe’s snake oil, there was another new(ish) song of hers that I thought you all might enjoy. Called Frankenstein, it is about the perils of science. How there are certain things that, when you investigate, turn out to be monsters. It seems like it would be the perfect anthem for anti-GMO folks. “We got what we want, just not the way we wanted.” I’ve been listening to these two on repeat all morning.