Pale Young Gentlemen have already made Madison safe for the dramatic, cabaret-influenced indie-rock and gypsy punk that swamped Brooklyn several years back. Consequently, the materials that make up this song by Crane Your Swan Neck -- a melancholy accordion drawn from a 19th Century dancehall, a dirge-like Tom Waits-style beat, and an elastic-voiced swain pleading his case most pathetically as he rearranges the marbles in his mouth -- aren't going to surprise anyone hereabouts. But the quality of the writing, playing and particularly the arranging on this demo version of "On Landmines" might.
The fairly new Madison band's singer/prime mover Randall Luecke could have encouraged his music-making mates to pump up every bar with gypsy violin and all manner of odd keyed instruments, valorizing aural exoticism over every other aspect of the tune. But fortunately he doesn't do that.
Yes, the confused swain he plays is a stock character. On the other hand, Luecke manages to make the youthful solipsist work by oozing through a loopy sonic pub crawl that stutters and reels like a drunk at the end of a week-long bender.
No doubt some listeners will long for a little less tension and a lot more release. But Luecke's purpose here isn't to provide a pleasant love song that wraps everything up in a bright red bow just before the final drumbeat is hit. Instead, he means to envelope us in the poisonous vapors of a tortured mind, and he accomplishes that goal quite craftily.
An MP3 of the track is available in the related downloads at right. More songs by the band can be listened to on its MySpace page. Crane Your Swan Neck has a pair of upcoming performances in the next week, the first on Friday, June 20 at The Owl House followed by another on Wednesday, June 25 when they open for Frog Eyes at The Project Lodge. More shows follow in July and August at The Frequency.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.