"Shampoo" - Elvis Perkins in Dearland
What may seem like a throwaway, the twiddly gathering of odd-ish creaks and whistles we hear in this song's opening 25 seconds or so, is in retrospect an intriguing hint of the powerful agglomeration of sound that Perkins and his idiosyncratically-named band pump out as this one ramps up. Among the instruments the group plays are upright bass, saxophone, pump organ, harmonica, harmonium, trombone, banjo, and clarinet. (This is not your father's rock band.) I advise turning up the volume so as best to hear the deep and mighty sonic breaths that propel this cryptic dirge forward. Perkins sings with an offhanded, cumulatively heart-rending ache; a startling phrase or two comes to the surface ("Black is the color of a strangled rainbow," for one); but the song's meaning lies more in the convincing churn of the the musical and lyrical momentum than in precise denotation. (In other words: I don't know what he's actually saying.)
Perkins was featured on Fingertips around the time of his 2007 solo debut CD; check out that review for the executive summary of his sad backstory. He's been playing, with long-time friends, as Elvis Perkins in Dearland at least since then. The band's self-titled debut CD is due out on XL Recordings in March. MP3 via the Beggars Group web site.