Artist: Original Mechanical Mouse
When you hear the name of Joel Collinsworth's solo project, Original Mechanical Mouse, it's tempting to conjure the mechanical mouse from the Tom & Jerry cartoon (used by Jerry to fool Tom). But concentrate instead on original, for it's Collinsworth's uniqueness that sets OMM apart. The acoustic guitar arrangements can be haunting and spare (like John Frusciante's To Record Only Water for Ten Days) or quietly tender like Grandaddy's "Underneath The Weeping Willow."
And if I were to say that the vocals are fragile, fragility would evoke two distinct archetypes: the first, that of a pantywaste hipster, pale and gaunt from his recent conversion to veganism (not that there's anything wrong with that); and second, the vocals of old souls, all sturdy and aged, who come across as vulnerable in their art because they've lived a life (and seen some shit). It's the latter school that includes Neil Young; and it's to this class of song-writers that OMM belongs.
In addition to the memorable vocal, OMM's indie folk is notable for its poetic lyricism: "I saw the worst of it .... / But when the dope and booze finally put you down / I was not around .... / Lately I've been pouring on the dreams / Of you and me" ("Pouring On The Dreams"); "Someone to play them [love songs] / Like leaves on a pond" ("Leaves On A Pond"); and "And love is like a flower / You can hold it in your hand / It doesn't have a million dollars" ("His Better Life").
But the standout track is "The Boy Who Lived On Mars." As difficult as it is to add something of value to the space-based canon (owned by Bowie), OMM has done so here, introducing innocence to the visual quiet that is objects at a great distance, "There was a boy who lived on Mars / He practiced music with the stars .... / His light was yellow, red and blue / He sent messages along the Milky Way to you." But it's the artfully placed 'woo-hoo's that carry the lion's share of emotion.
Oh Yeah, Basement Tapes is a work of art recalling Neil Young at his most beautiful.
*** The author of this review, Roger Reed, plays the daouli for the following band: http://youtu.be/tMS73-1kCr8