US - New Jersey - Full Moon 98 - 09/28/04
Brother Is To Son
I was really pissed when I missed this concert evening four months ago here in Oslo: Sufjan
Stevens, Brother Danielson and David Eugene Edwards (16 Horsepower) visited John Dee, but when
I arrived at the venue it was...sold out!? Couldn't believe my eyes/ears.
That night I came to see Sufjan Stevens after listening a lot to his amazingly beautiful
albums Michigan and
Seven Swans. Two and a half years ago
Brother Danielson a.k.a. Daniel Smith threw a blistering show with his Danielson Famile (at the
All Tomorrows Parties, Camber Sands, UK) which took me by surprise. A charming gig, with the entire
Famile dressed as nurses! Total nurse-o-rama! Competing the Polyphonic Spree for the stage outfits
awards. After releasing albums with the Family for the last ten years Daniel's now put out his solo
debut. With a little help from his family friends. Which makes it a full Danielson after all. Including
contributions from Smith's siblings Andrew, David, Megan, and Rachel; his wife Elin and daughter (?)
Lilly; Sufjan Stevens, Christian & Melissa Palladino, Glen Galaxy (of Soul-Junk),
John Ringhofer, and Ted Velykis.
The folk & gospel rooted Danielson Family/Famile have been said to offer a twisted hybrid of
Carter Family, Half Japanese and the Pixies. Daniel for sure has a helium-puffed Frank-Black-Francis
kind of voice. Throw in some doses of Pere Ubu wrestling Violent Femmes and your right on target.
Check out the massive Tri-Danielson double LP Alpha / Omega, or the last album, 2001's
Fetch the Compass Kids. Brother Is To
Son might be a tad toned down, but its energy sure kicks and twists. Songs swaying with Daniel's
creeching and screaming vocals all over, everything going in the opposite direction you thought
it would leave. Every song's a feast, even the quietest ones, and they really get a grip on you.
Check out the wild opener "Things Against Stuff", the tender "Our Givest", or the slowly rising
(whisper-to-a-scream) "Sweet Sweeps". Not to forget the eminent "Hammers Sitting Still" (co-written
with Elin), with the lyrics going: "I just lost my finger,
and I've dropped my hammer down / I pour out on this poor ladder, and my work boots can't be found.
I feel held back and frustrated, insecure and I'm annoyed... [...] ..Work is robbing me of living, they
were right about my dreams / My debts building when I stand here, should this even be a song?"
Because: "Songs are either written in fields or on couches,
which ways best?". Stick to the events from out of daily life for inspiration, Daniel! Another
faves are (the Sufjan Steven-ish) "Perennial Wine", not to forget the last two, "Physician Heal
Yourself" and the touching "Brother: Son".
Let yourself become seduced by this family entertainment. They're wild and wonderful.
Copyright © 2004 Håvard Oppøyen