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coverpic flag US - New Jersey - Full Moon 98 - 09/28/04

Brother Danielson
Brother Is To Son
Secretly Canadian

I was really pissed when I missed this concert evening four months ago here in Oslo: Sufjan Stevens, Brother Danielson and David Eugene Edwards (16 Horsepower) visited John Dee, but when I arrived at the venue it was...sold out!? Couldn't believe my eyes/ears.

That night I came to see Sufjan Stevens after listening a lot to his amazingly beautiful albums Michigan and Seven Swans. Two and a half years ago Brother Danielson a.k.a. Daniel Smith threw a blistering show with his Danielson Famile (at the All Tomorrows Parties, Camber Sands, UK) which took me by surprise. A charming gig, with the entire Famile dressed as nurses! Total nurse-o-rama! Competing the Polyphonic Spree for the stage outfits awards. After releasing albums with the Family for the last ten years Daniel's now put out his solo debut. With a little help from his family friends. Which makes it a full Danielson after all. Including contributions from Smith's siblings Andrew, David, Megan, and Rachel; his wife Elin and daughter (?) Lilly; Sufjan Stevens, Christian & Melissa Palladino, Glen Galaxy (of Soul-Junk), John Ringhofer, and Ted Velykis.

The folk & gospel rooted Danielson Family/Famile have been said to offer a twisted hybrid of Carter Family, Half Japanese and the Pixies. Daniel for sure has a helium-puffed Frank-Black-Francis kind of voice. Throw in some doses of Pere Ubu wrestling Violent Femmes and your right on target. Check out the massive Tri-Danielson double LP Alpha / Omega, or the last album, 2001's Fetch the Compass Kids. Brother Is To Son might be a tad toned down, but its energy sure kicks and twists. Songs swaying with Daniel's creeching and screaming vocals all over, everything going in the opposite direction you thought it would leave. Every song's a feast, even the quietest ones, and they really get a grip on you. Check out the wild opener "Things Against Stuff", the tender "Our Givest", or the slowly rising (whisper-to-a-scream) "Sweet Sweeps". Not to forget the eminent "Hammers Sitting Still" (co-written with Elin), with the lyrics going: "I just lost my finger, and I've dropped my hammer down / I pour out on this poor ladder, and my work boots can't be found. I feel held back and frustrated, insecure and I'm annoyed... [...] ..Work is robbing me of living, they were right about my dreams / My debts building when I stand here, should this even be a song?" Because: "Songs are either written in fields or on couches, which ways best?". Stick to the events from out of daily life for inspiration, Daniel! Another faves are (the Sufjan Steven-ish) "Perennial Wine", not to forget the last two, "Physician Heal Yourself" and the touching "Brother: Son".

Let yourself become seduced by this family entertainment. They're wild and wonderful.

Copyright © 2004 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

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