Quite a formidable pairing (hmmmm…) – Django Haskins of The Old Ceremony and Gary Louris of The Jayhawks team up on a knockout project now known as Au Pair (“oh, pair” – see?) and this is, indeed, a winner. Classic, hooky pop done in a low-fi manner but damn, if it doesn’t sound grand and lush.
Case and point as you jump right into the opening track, “In Every Window” – catchy, killer harmonies (the tightness of the two vocals sound startlingly like Townshend and Entwistle, who had some of the greatest harmonies ever) and a deadly McGuinn-styled solo; the ethereal, atmospheric “One-Eyed Crier” would put Roger Waters to shame – warm, other-worldly and subdued-ly psychedelic in a very subtle way and the album’s title cut, “One Armed Candy Bear” has a classic rock & roll acoustic boogie feel while being assaulted with a fuzzy guitar weaving in and out.
“Night Falls Early” is a slow, sweet track with touches of Syd Barrett in some places and Chris Bell in others but the harmonies give it an even more impactful emotional level – and yes, during the guitar break towards the end, you immediately hear the influence of the darker tracks from Big Star’s 3rd – small wonder, as both gentlemen have performed as part of the Big Star Third live ensemble; “Middle Distance” is the “poppy” song; the track you can imagine as singled out for radio airplay, with its catchy choruses and upbeat melody and “Make An Entrance” is a perfect finger-picked piece in a very Stephen Stills/Pete Townshend kind of way.
With One Armed Candy Bear, Gary Louris and Django Haskins have proved once again that less is more. And there’s plenty here to get into. I keep getting into it – over and over.
One Armed Candy Bear is available now