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There's Something Wrong with Dan Melchior

I think I’m a clever guy. Most of the time. Either way, while I was trying to figure out an angle to use for this Dan Melchior write-up, I settled upon an analogy of a three wheeled, wheel barrel. Relating this to the Medway scene and the folks who’ve gone on to spread that gospel, I figure that Bill Childish would be the wheel in the front. No arguments are really possible on that one. Of the two back wheels, Holly Golightly would be the solid, dependable one, leaving Melchior to be the shaky, confusing one that disallows the wheel barrel from being pushed easily.

Difficult might be too strong a word to use in this particular instance, but Melchior’s music veers from one thing to the next so quickly that if some one was hell bent on levying that adjective on the man’s music, it wouldn’t be too surprising. All of that, though, just stems from the fact the guitarist and singer hasn’t been satisfied to sit around within a single genre – or atleast be confined by the limits of one of ‘em.

Since Fire Breathing Clones on Cellular Phones has been out for the better part of three years – at least – it shouldn’t be shocking that Thank You Very Much, where Melchior’s accompanied by Das Menace, sounds a bit detached from not just that previous effort but most of the Medway records. That’s not to figure that Melchior has eschewed the entire garage genre. Instead, he’s undertaken an approach that works to bring in a wealth of noisome influences to bolster a genre that’s been endlessly mined. Of course, that means a great deal of the S-S Records’ release comes off as purposefully obtuse.

The album’s opener, “O! Anxiety,” cops a simple rock beat and refuses to surprise listeners until its chorus. Suddenly, there’s a robotic stomp and some of the most twisted distortion on a garage related disc since – maybe ever. What’s most interesting is that the song’s break remains undeniably tied to garage’s history while sounding none too distant from some strain of electronic work. Odd indeed.

There’s a trio of offerings towards the album’s end that find Melchior working in his most experimental hues. “Wrapped in Fog” wouldn’t be startling to radio listeners, but the band leader here funks it up in similar fashion to the Clash or any other clutch of white dudes trying to work as much with rhythm as melody. Not bad, but not engaging either. Following that, “Glen Prevails” presents Melchior’s version of ambient music. There’s a single tone underneath the litany of strummed guitar chords and acoustic melody. Birdsong comes in at the tail end to wrap up one of the most surprising features from any of Melchior’s albums.  Next comes his Syd Barrett appropriation. Arriving as the strongest out of these three tracks, “Dear Old Durham” is all bucolic and swings pretty hard as well. Fortunately or not, these excursions into oddity don’t save the disc from being uneven and in the end just another reason for figuring Melchior as that shifty third wheel.