Few weeks ago, Mombi launched their debut single (‘The Misunderstanding“) which was the first time I have written about Kael and Matt. After that experience, I have been getting around The Wounded Beat pretty much whenever I can, constantly reminded of Album Leaf and a somber Postal Service.
The record is moody, full of ethereal, deep-cut songs that seem to be perfectly laced from start to finish yet emotionally affecting, to the effect of watching a quiet storm pass by, looking out to the trees that swayed to its avalanche of haze.
This time, the band announce the release of its latest single, “Glowing Beatdown” an autobiographical take which took almost a year to finish. As the centerpiece from which title of the album is taken from, the single is the most ardent in words compared to the rest of the batch.
Resonated by the bareness of a guitar, a distant piano and Smith’s voice, the hearth behind “Glowing Beatdown” is carefully restrained, kept to a vague hint that as the track progresses, it burns deeper. Smith seems to walk around the instruments light-footed as he picks up the words to say, “I know, I don’t like to tell you things” he confesses which does not really provide understanding as to what the song is about— just more layers are added to its beauty.
Describe your band hyper-prolific and you get attention. Proving that your band deserve that attention is all another ballgame. But the claim Leopard Smoke made in its bio is nothing close to hogwash self-importance. Head over the group’s Bandcamp page and you are overwhelmed with how much material Felix and Roy, as Leopard Smoke, have produced. This New York avant-garde folk duo sounds sophisticated and trippy at the same time, balancing acoustic guitar qualities shadowed by lo-fi smothering. For their “fourth, sixth or eleventh depending on how you look at it” record Infinite Lush, the act squandered inspiration from all over New York probably after ampling up Central Park gigs that surmounted the 14 tracks that make up the record.
Infinite Lush carries one of my favorite tracks this early time of the year, “Anti-Art.” Shying away from three-minute mark, the song is audaciously frank in its mockery of a so-called struggling artist persona. With its tousled guitars (sounding battered and almost weary as its hero) and almost-squealing vocal work, “Anti-Art” can be translated as Leopard Smoke’s homage to their peers, to independent musicians who are ‘looking for an audience.’ That can be another way of looking at it as some of the lyrics refer to a visual kind with lines like ‘no one wants to understand your master plan, your doodling.’ Either way, the song is self-explanatory but the truth in it rings the most noteworthy. Written for people who create music, installations, or maybe even films, the song dissects the dilemma of being an author of any kind of creation.
What would classify an amateur from being an artist? Do we use the term “artist” so much these days that we have rubbed off the integrity of the word? Moreso, what is art? Reading too much? Maybe.
Leopard Smoke in the end asks, “it’s not 1922, what’s so special about you?”