Album Review: New Bums – Voices in a Rented Room

New_Bums_Voices-In-A-Rented-RoomThe compilation Ben Chasney and Donovan Quinn create as New Bums on their debut album, Voices in a Rented Room is as well matched as stale cigarettes and a heavy pour of whiskey in the wee morning hours. The melodies gracefully stumble from track to track and linger between improvisational and deliberate. Each track plays like it’s been recorded anywhere but a proper studio (perhaps just some rented room) as the metallic string squeaks resonate frequently. But just as frequently incorporated is the precision from flamenco inspired finger work heard most notably in the opening track, “Black Bough.” The combination forms a modern psych-folk sound that establishes structure without giving up its raw edge.

The aesthetic of every track from New Bums centers on a lackadaisical harmonizing that listeners could easily think attributable to a few stiff drinks shared between friends. But with the track record of Chasney’s Six Organs of Admittance and Quinn’s The Skygreen Leopards, listeners can be assured that every musical aspect is nothing short of intentional.

The instrumentation remains sparse through the entirety. Quinn and Chasney accompany one another for the majority of tunes with vocals and guitar. However “Welcome to the Navy” changes pace with the addition of electronic reverb, which accentuates the fusion of modern and vintage folk.

Dark, humorous and sometimes dark and humorous lyrics encompass the album. As the two croon out “Pigeon Town,” the acoustic and catchy tune is reminiscent of the sweet serenade of Simon and Garfunkel. But verses containing Frankenstein and fucks transform the soft spoken ballad from a poem to a limerick. An Americana spirit flows through each track, embracing and even respecting the charm of blemishes. This is imperfection as a form of art.

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