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Jeffrey Lewis Band

Jeffrey Lewis is an anti-folk singer and cartoonist from New York. He and his band played Edinburgh last week and they were fantastic.

This is the review I wrote for Is This Music?:

York anti-folk hero Jeffrey Lewis turns 31 tonight. Although he’s had
much critical acclaim, his lyrics at times deal with self-doubts
regarding his worth as a musician. Luckily the reception he gets
tonight, as he marks the end of another year, is ample confirmation
that he’s on the right path.

“Also a talented cartoonist, Lewis
combines this with several of his songs to awe-inspiring effect. His
song ‘Creeping Brain’ is accompanied by a slideshow which illustrates
the unfolding tale, with its B-movie plot about a brain that takes over
the world by eating everything in its path. Both a way of bringing his
excellent cartoons to life and of adding a whole new, unique dimension
to his songs, the technique also works wonders for part four of his
‘Complete History of Communism’ which focuses on the history of China
(also with accompanying illustrations). If only they taught history
like this at school.

“However with ‘Williamsburg Will Oldham
Horror’ his hypnotic tale of a fictional encounter with Bonnie “Prince”
Billy, he proves that he and his band (a key member of which is his
brother Jack) can paint just as good pictures with words and music
alone: it’s a spiralling stream of consciousness (during which Lewis
barely catches his breath) that touches on the aforementioned concerns
about artistic talent, integrity and success, and plays on Oldham’s
enigmatic persona to comic effect.

“Along with tonight’s support
act KateGoes, whose eclectic theatrics got a good reaction at the start
of the night, fellow brummies Misty’s Big Adventure’s co-headlining set
make a nice contrast to the more wordy Lewis. Like a troupe of deranged
clowns terrorising a children’s birthday party, they give an
exhilarating performance of their ska-pop back catalogue, as well as
current single ‘The Fashion Parade’ which rips into Franz and the
Kaisers with unapologetic glee (though sadly, without Noddy Holder’s
voiceover). Grandmaster Gareth narrates tales about such matters as
radioactive children in a wryly sardonic style, with some of the songs
coming across like tragi-comic Jackanory stories for adults. His band
mates play keyboards, trumpet and saxophone, jump around and make a lot
of glorious noise. However by the end of their set, the continued
presence of their devilish mascot Erotic Volvo and his sweaty costume
made out of blue gloves seems like an unnecessary aberration.”


Read his story “Legend of The Fall” about Mark E Smith and co.

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