Andy and his Grandmother
It’s long been difficult for many people to relate to the bizarre antics of comedian/performance artist Andy Kaufman, a man who created major alternate identities for himself, including a professional wrestler and a lounge singer named Tony Clifton, and who some believe faked his own death at age 35. On this album, recorded on microcassette between 1977 and 1979 but only just released, Kaufman’s pranks, hoaxes and practical jokes sketch out what could be credited as the nascence of candid reactive/interactive humor, inspiring later pranksters like Tom Green and The Jerky Boys. But though there is a touch of so-called “comic genius” and Gene Wilder-style surrealism, mostly what’s revealed here is the reckless, mean-spirited behavior of a sexist egomaniac whose primary goal/fetish is to fuck with people’s heads and then rationalize it as art. In short: Que lastima.
Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood
Alternative rocker Lanegan has worked alongside Kurt Cobain, Greg Dulli and Isobell Campbell, among others, and his latest pairs him with London multi-instrumentalist Garwood. Much as he did on 2012’s Blues Funeral, Lanegan appears in fine voice, even when croaking out lines about Jesus, Satan, and a “killing floor.” However, it’s Garwood who steals the show with acoustic guitar work that, while never excessively flashy, provides compelling counterpoint to some tunes’ quasi-religious subject matter. Drum machine beats are employed on “Mescalito,” and “Shade of the Sun” features atmospheric flourishes from former Queens of the Stone Age contributor Alain Johannes, but the majority of the record is dominated by Garwood’s loose finger-picking and Lanegan’s distinctive croon. Good thing. When the two artists lock into a groove like “Cold Molly,” many listeners will wonder why the duo didn’t team up sooner.
Larry Dulong’s Random Sighting includes a full page of musician credits, and it’s readily apparent that he’s dipping into a wide pool of Valley talent with his ongoing, catch-as-catch-can backing band. A small sampling of that list yields the likes of Mitch Chakour, Dave Boatwright, Jim Henry, Peter Kim and Joe Fitzpatrick. Dulong’s aesthetic lies somewhere between country, pop, old-school rock and, primarily, ’70s folky grooviness. He backs up his tenor vocals with a wide palette of instruments, including flute, Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ in addition to guitar, bass and drums. Though Random Sighting offers a lot of meditative earnestness, Dulong also departs for bluesy rock destinations, full of honky-tonk piano and full-on sax playing. This album offers a very mixed bag of styles, and it’s a tour of many a Valley talent.