The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele – Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele

2009

Paw Tracks

It’s always a treat when the performers at concerts have a powerful stage presence.  Antics from the musicians might include joking around with the crowd, jumping off drum sets, or even windmilling their instruments a la Pete Townshend style.  However, it’d be a surprise if this came from a twenty-something kid wearing glasses and a sweater while playing the ukulele.

Imagine my and Steve’s astonishment when we saw Dent May (and his Magnificent Ukulele, which is always billed with him) live, doing all those stunts.  Hearing that Dent May would be opening up for A.C. Newman, I had bought this record to be accustomed to the music.  He and his band has put on a really entertaining show for the duration of their set.  If only the actual album kept up the level of excellence of the concert.

Now, none of the songs are really terrible, per se.  It’s just that some of them are lacking in ways that experienced musicians have already figured out how to adapt.

However, let’s start with the good.  May’s melodies are always catchy and soaring.  Songs like his single “Meet Me in the Garden” and album-closer “Love Song 2009” allow his crooning singing style captivating outlets.  On these and other pop-perfection songs like “Oh Paris!” and “You Can’t Force a Dance Party,” the bouncing of his ukulele brings around the fun atmosphere that is May’s niche.  On the surface, most of his songs are, sonically-speaking, pleasing.

Slightly below the surface, though, is where the problem lies.

At the concert, I noticed all the hipsters around me knew all of the words to all of his songs.  I had listened to the album a few times in the weeks beforehand, not enough to memorize all of the words, but enough.  However, songs such as “College  Town Boy,” “Howard,” and “God Loves You, Michael Chang” were being chanted by most of the crowd.  Why had I not figured out the lyrics to these songs?

Take a listen to a lot of the songs on The Good Feeling Music and one will notice that they’re character-driven, boring, pop drivel.  Some, like the sneering “College Town Boy,” are cringe-worthy.  With lyrics like “He’s smoking reefer everyday now, his tastes are extremely high-brow,” it becomes an easily-skippable song.  Some songs are even worse.  “Howard,” for instance, doesn’t just have careless lyrics (“Howard’s getting fatter, he’s rusty in the sack”), but is musically boring as well, with a dragging feeling for the length of the song.

There are a few highlights on Dent May’s first release (on Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks record company), however a majority of the tracks just feel drab.  May knows what his genre is, which is a good sign for his future, but he just needs to explore interesting facets of it.  The forced story-songs with excessive immaturity can be forgotten about. But, on the other songs where May has flashes of brilliance, well, those are the songs to look forward to seeing pure rocking out on his magnificent ukulele.

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