I discovered Ron Peno a couple of years ago. A bit late, I know. He was performing with Kim Salmon as The Darling Downs. It was at a street music festival, one of those deals where a strip is shut down and the venues host gigs all day long. I recall the mid afternoon crowd being transfixed by these two guys performing achingly beautiful music. I recall lulling melodies and lyrics of loss and love. But mostly I recall Ron Peno’s voice.
Not long thereafter I tracked down a Died Pretty Best Of. I’d always heard the name but never delved into their music. Why hadn’t I been exposed to this earlier? It was tremendous. Something entirely different than any other local music of the era, or any time really. Dark, dirty, heart wrenching. Dramatic but never cloying, never artificial. And that voice. It’s a great thing that Mr Peno is continuing to put out challenging and arresting music. Hopefully more people will take notice.
A couple of weeks back I got all gushy about Shimmering Stars, a little group out of Canada who make music that harkens back to a pre-60’s era of rock and roll and infuse it with a certain..unease. The UKs Die Jungen are doing a similar thing, perhaps with a shade more darkness. Their music evokes a Happy Day-esque scene in a diner-though a blurred out Travis Bickle character sits slouched in a booth, picking his teeth with a screwdriver. There’s a hair in the gate and the footage isn’t quite right. The lights flicker. It’s wholly compelling.
Beautifully produced and strangely cinematic, Die Jungen have created an intriguing little chunk of sonic onyx with this album.