Welcome (back) to Lawrence. For those of you new to LU, a few quick things: I’m Brad, I write the rock music column, and reading this column will make you as cool as me. I spent the summer trying to find a perfect article to kick the year off with and then I realized that a good introduction to LU would have to involve an LU band, so this year I begin with Denes and their new CD “Title Track.”
I feel that Denes is very representative of Lawrence. Denes is led by piano playing, sad song writing Paul Salomon. His voice is reminiscent Ben Folds, and his lyrics are filled with inside jokes and personal info that most writers would leave to their journals. But Denes isn’t just a solo outing. No, we can’t forget the fact that Denes has a string section.
Most bands add strings to a song to kick it up a notch With that said, Denes lives in a constant state of “kicking-it-up-a-notchness.” Simply put, Denes rocks sweetly where BF5 left off. I know I’ve mentioned Ben Folds a lot -the influence is there – but that is the last time his name will appear in this article.
“Title Track” opens with “Come On,” a catchy little love song with one of my favorite piano hooks ever. “Lost Dream” follows with the sad line “I am just a boy now, a boy with a hope and a dream, a boy that knows with all his friends, he’s still feeling lonely.” Here is where the strings tear at your heartstrings.
But Denes doesn’t want you to slit your wrists just yet, so the next track, “Roses on Valentine’s Day,” is a poppy anti-clich love song. “I’m Gonna Try” follows, and Paul admits “my songs are sad.” Yeah, they are.
The rest of the song contains some of my favorite lines: “It’s so cute the way you drive your car… I love every part of who you are, I even love your family.” Those lines border on sophomoric, but the tone of the song makes them amazingly sweet.
For me the highlight of the album is “The Whale Eats Paris.” The piano disappears and we are left hearing Paul sing, Patrick Ehlers play bass, Sarah Singer and Sue Platz play violin, Claire Weiss play cello and Shannon McCue play viola.
I haven’t heard baroque music this good since Bach, but this song is way better than Bach, and a lot catchier. The entire time the song screams “this is original!” The structure is unique, definitely something you won’t hear on the radio anytime soon.
So, as you adjust to Lawrence (whether as a returner or a newbie), there are a few things you need to do to start out the year: get your books online instead of going to Conkey’s, eat at Downer just for the ice cream, and find a member of Denes, give them a hug, and buy their new CD.