Driving has a certain mystique. Not often. Especially not here in Chicago, where we are constantly stuck in traffic, on the Metra, or on the bus. Yet, there is an elusive quality of freedom associated with rolling down a twinkling, deserted street on the cusp of darkness; listening to music you choose; going miles faster than you could ever run. From Ford’s Model T to grainy pictures of old gas stations when there were still attendants to stand out in the freezing winter; cars have been engrained into American pop culture. The relished feeling of contented freedom surrounding this iconic (and daily) action can be associated with just as reminiscent and powerful of music.
Timber Timbre is perfect for isolated nighttime drives. Their song Black Water is staccato excellence made melt worthy by Taylor Kirk’s crooning voice that continues to haunt your thoughts long after the song has finished. Although Timber Timbre’s ragged blues can be taken just as melancholy folk-anthems of isolation, they are chillingly beautiful – like when you are driving in the countryside and are able to see nature or life itself in a stunning new light. The music is not necessarily weird – although it will not be played on the radio anytime soon – and the more you play it the more welcome the contemplative ambiance created by strong reverb and added on feedback will be. Timber Timbre creates an enchanting story of power and musical identity, aptly suited for night drives spent captivated by an intriguing proposition, event, or discovery.
Similar to Timber Timbre and playing this week in Chicago is Dirty Beaches (whose album Badlands is the third best-selling album of 2011 so far on insound.com). Dirty Beaches take the grainy, neon streaked image of 1950s America and makes it musically relevant. The slow piano loop borrowed from Francoise Hardy’s ‘Viola’ in ‘Lord Knows Best’ showcases Dirty Beaches ability to do more than just reproduce a vintage sound, but rather give it a revolutionary and grimy edge. Dirty Beaches is the music of a time when a waltz was popular skillfully delivered to an era where Jersey Shore tendencies seem popular. In the end, Beaches is able to link two very different American cultures together through stripped down recordings, instrumental samplings, and quintessential human heartbreak in order to create a new American classic.
Neither of these bands is of the lo-fi, garage fuzz rock so common in today’s music scene. They both weave a new dimension into old sound, creating a feeling of contemplative escape where the music washes about you and conjures up images of swishing silk, twinkling lights, and self-discovery.