Writer and journalist Joan Didion, born in Sacramento and prominent author of nonfiction, argues that »California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension«. This definition perfectly fits what happens in this first work by Oh Lazarus.
Good Times is a nameless sound spreading through the dark curves of these 10 songs, crossing the Death valley, the Sonora desert, the stages of Max's Kansas City and Green Mills, and the long, foggy plains that surround the Po river.
If our Californian writer listened to the record, she would notice the blending of two different souls: the first one comes from New York's aestheticizing boom, arising at the twilight of Warhol's 15 minutes of fame and sung by a hallucinated Nico – a darkness turning into pop through the first polaroid filters on Interview.
The second soul, nervous, unpleasant and devastated – Chekhovian – combines early 20th century prison worksongs and murder ballads with the belief that life and death laugh and cry in the same way, and in the same way should be celebrated, remembered and sung.
Ten songs, belonging to a non-genre that we will call Gothic Americana, which move away from the tradition of jazz, folk, blues and garage, but still manage to make all these bloodstreams flow into a single artery which eludes definition. These songs, like an imaginary tale written by Poe and Carver together, bewitch and bewilder at the same time.
This is what happens when a resonator guitar, a clarinet, metal cans and a suitcase start playing together; when country, blues and hapa haole meet the shimmy, and when the roundness of an authentic voice (Cecilia Merli) happily clashes with the raw nerves of a guitar à la Venus in Furs.
Recorded during an endless Italian tour, and born as a mix of original compositions and traditional folk songs, Good times is the first studio work of Oh Lazarus: Simone Merli and Daniele La Barbera, fellow musicians for over a decade, and Cecilia Merli, a young clarinetist who began to sing when these songs began. Together they succeed in making these songs vivid, instinctive and heart-warming while gracefully depriving the record's title of a bit of its irony.
Ball and chain
Single girl again
Come on up to the house
St. James Infirmary blues
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