First things first: The tote bags at CMJ last year were much cooler, and it sort of colored my mood bout the whole conference. But thankfully, some friends of mine somehow managed to drag me out for a show by something called Dent May And His Magnificent Ukulele. His (their?) MySpace page had three lovely tracks, as well as a music video that looked like David Lynch and old-timey Southern gentry had an orgy, only taking breaks to flip through an Urban Outfitters catalog.
Sure, his shtick was full of ammo for a Blogger Hate Gun: Elton John spectacles; a ukulele; ironic Christmas sweaters. So mine was drawn and ready to fire–but I was hit right in between the eyes as Dent kicked off the show with the pop gem “Oh, Paris,” which was marked by a charmingly authentic rhythm section that brought to mind having all your friends clapping along and shaking maracas with you. The vocal melody was reminiscent of Nico’s “These Days,” although one of Dent’s many strong points is his Chris Isaak-slash-Morrissey croon when he’s really going for it.
He entered into some clichéd lyrical territory–the loneliness of academia, mock-condescending lectures to the “college town boy” who hasn’t been to Prague yet, or playing all your favorite records at a house party yet no one will get up and dance. But despite (or because of?) that, I still found myself laughing.
I’m the kind of guy who has to hear songs a couple of time usually to like them (I am only now understanding the beauty in “Remember the Night Parties”), but Dent’s songs struck a chord with me instantly, and that made his goofy gravitas persona really work. His show is definitely worth catching, if you can.