I posted about Dan Melchior's latest album Catbirds and Cardinals before I even had a copy...on the slim basis of one Soundcloud stream and a spot near the top of WFMU's heavily played list. And, as sometimes happens, a few days later, I had an email exchange with the label, a week or so after that, the full album and then, just before the holidays, an hour-long conversation with Dan Melchior...who is completely fascinating and if you ever have an opportunity to buy him a beer, do it.
So thanks to the miracles of internet communication, I went from "whoa, this sounds like an interesting album," to "here is my completed profile of Dan Melchior" in less than a month. I guess I do some sort of random post on Bryan Ferry now, eh?
Here we go:
AN ENGLISHMAN IN NORTH CAROLINA: Dan Melchior
The über-prolific lo-fi maven reflects on a recent past beset with personal and professional challenges, but manages to remain optimistic and upbeat.
BY JENNIFER KELLY
"Living in America is quite difficult for an English person," says Dan Melchior. "Americans really think they know all about you. And they all think they can do an English accent, which they do, to your face, over and over again."
Melchior has lived in America for more than a decade and during that time has made little headway in convincing the locals that he has no interest in the Gallagher brothers, Posh and Beckham, the Royal family or any of the other topics that that all Brits are supposed (by Americans at least) to obsess over. Yet he is quite British, in his way, from the thick cockney vowels that clot his speech, to his penchant for surreal English comedy, to his obsession with World War II. "English Shame" from his latest (though by no means new; more on that later) album, takes a wry look at America's misguided Anglo-philia, setting trash culture icons like Sting and Jagger up against Melchior's real British heroes.
"William Blake is a hero of mine. J.M.W. Turner is a hero of mine. I just drop those in as people that I would hold up as being English, rather than some of those other people that I would rather forget. They're the equivalent of Carrot Top, you know?" says Melchior. "They're not someone you want to think about when you think about your nationality."
Catbirds and Cardinals is Melchior's 19th full-length in a career that has spanned decades and continents. In the late 1990s, he recorded with cracked primitivist Billy Childish and, later, with Holly Golightly. In the ‘00s, his band, the Broke Revue, signed with In the Red, made three records and toured with the White Stripes, Jon Spencer and Mudhoney. In 2004, he ditched his band and started playing all the parts himself. Dan Melchior Und Das Menace is another way of saying Dan Melchior and Dan Melchior. It's all one guy on all the instruments.