Twenty years after shrugging off a less than enthusiastic reception from New York’s folk quarter, Antifolk’s founder and first figure-head Lach is still plying his trade with characteristic wit, whim and wisdom.
The NY Antifolk scene, a loose concept involving acoustic guitars and punk-rock attitude, has produced artists ranging from the melodic Kimya Dawson to the mad, bad world of Thomas Truax but one thing remains in common – all do things their way. Lach is no different.
His quirky and, at times, jaunty, punk-esque melodies sometimes belie the fact that, at their core, these are songs commenting on the world and where we are. Following on from 1990’s debut Contender and 1999’s Blang, which featured back-up from luminaries such as Billy Ficca of Television on drums, comes Today. From the very first track, this is a gem of an album.
Antenna kick-starts proceedings with Lach’s lowbrow humour and reputation as master raconteur once again comes to the fore. “I don’t believe in aliens, ghosts or UFOs,” he drawls. “I’m more concerned with finding intelligence in Vermont, Kansas and Idaho.”
Junior chronicles the life of a young girl adrift in East Village: “Her rent is late and her period is later,” while the deceptively upbeat-sounding Parade views latter day protest movements and civil liberty infractions.
Throughout the album acoustic guitars rule (the sleeve notes proudly proclaim “No electric guitars were used in the making of his record”) backed up by a solidly rockabilly rhythm section and the occasional swirling of Theramins and Selectones. There’s a Sesame Street sensibility to Secrets Theme II with its bouncing beats and chanting children. The dark and maudlin Do The Next Right Thing hits a deeper tone, while in Sixties Girl and Let’s Make a Movie he further expands on the American malaise he chronicles throughout, and the mirage, which is the American Dream.
Lach may not have the mainstream fame, fortune or renown of artists such as Beck or the Moldy Peaches, nor is he likely to find it but through his dual role as artist and owner of the seminal NY club The Fort they owe him a great debt. His influence stretches far beyond the sum of his parts.
As Time Out London noted: “NYC’s living legend. Riotously catchy!”