While I think Zach Baron is right about many things in today’s review of Oakley Hall’s I’ll Follow You (re: they’re the best in NYC at what they do), he disses Oakley Hall by belying his ignorance of the band’s artistic reference points. From this review, I’m almost sure Baron might not know what honky-tonk is, and it’s safe to say Oakley Hall, especially on this album, isn’t honky tonk, despite what Baron thinks. I’ll Follow You might evoke honky-tonk, but if so, only thought the warping it was given by X, or the Mekons. And as for Baron’s discussion of their use of blues structures, a song can be a blues without sounding so. It’s only a title.
So: I’ll Follow You embarrasses the last two Wilco records, evokes X and the Mekons, and does no less than attempt the dark blues folk on Fairport Convention albums like Liege and Lief. Not to mention Uncle Tupelo’s Anodyne and Linda Ronstadt’s work with Neil Young and Television. And there’s some of that psych-texture akin to tones found in early Oneida, from whom Oakley Hall springs but really shares nothing in common.
And a quick google shows Baron is/was a contributing writer to About.com’s contemporary literature site. Meaning he’s at the utter bottom of the web’s worst yet undying pyramid scheme.
But let me elaborate, and wordily:
With age I find that the songs I’ll play to death grow fewer. And with increasing frequency these decreasing songs include kernels of sounds and figures I marginally encountered in my most formative years, as if, as my youth fades further in the distance, its finer details become the most evocative details, like production tone on the drums on British folk records, or Moogs used in horror films in 1979.
I’ve exhausted the larger details, that’s for sure, with the major tastes I now have. I’m not consciously seeking these details, either, and that’s what ratchets up the enjoyment – the mystery of some songs’ impact. I’d rather not investigate, to tell the truth, but this qwerty keyboard beckons like hard drugs.
Frightening to think that what passes as an evolution of music taste might really be the byproduct of one’s exhaustion of all of nostalgia’s possible avenues. Maybe not; I have no idea why I love the Boredoms so, but then again they do evoke the Planet of Apes soundtrack for me, at least their later work.
I suppose this is what makes older music fans more susceptible to retro acts with no more substance than retro mimicry. At the very least, this makes it hard for older audiogeeks to separate the ventriloquists from the re-interpreters, nothing under the sun being really new. There’s a reason, besides testosterone and gender, that so many of the Pipettes’ fans are middle aged indie guys. Those reasons being: Thee Headcoatees, The Runaways, the Supremes, and on back …
All of this might be what can explain my instant and over-my-head love for I’ll Follow You and I go beyond obvious Uncle Tupelo/Wilco comparisons, because I think OH has a tad bit more Fairport Convention (marignal kernel #1) and X (#2) and Telelvision (#3) Linda Ronstadt (with justification: #4) in them than weaker ears might think.
I haven’t heard a roots-rockish album this well made since the Jayhawks etc in the early mid nineties. How about that? It sounds good. Like the drumsticks where as thick as baseball bats.
I’ll Follow You is burning a hole in the repeat functions of all my audio ware, soft and hard:
Oakley Hall – No Dreams
Oakley Hall – Alive Among Thieves
Oakley Hall – Take My Hands, We’re Free