Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Photo – Neil Krug

I saw that tweet from Ruban Nielson and I have to say, he’s right. With each album, Nielsen along long-time contributors Kody Nielson and Jacob Portrait consistently paint outside the lines. There’s no genre they won’t dip their toes in and none that they won’t blur with another.

I was driving with my wife and upon hearing, Hunnybee, she commented that it reminded her of a Prince tune both in his vocals and the ripping guitar solo towards the end of the track. A couple of tunes later, during the fuzzed out chugging rocker, American Guilt, she posed the question as to whether this was the same band. Affirmative I responded and I went on to soapbox that a UMO album was like reaching into a musical grab bag. One pronounced eye roll later, we had shifted on to yacht rock stylings of Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays and she was utterly confused.

I think Nielson is one of the more under-appreciated innovators out there. Maybe innovate isn’t the right word. Maybe interpreter is the better word. He takes these disparate genres; runs them through the UMO prism and out comes something truly unique and beautiful.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

UMO can be found here

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Ed Droste recently tweeted that music reviews that mention an artist’s social profile are pointless or something akin to that. Respectfully I disagree with Ed. While I would never jump on board with a band because I liked their tweets, sometimes they provide a different perspective of what you thought they were about.

Following UMO’s front-man Ruben Nielsen on Twitter is one such experience. He is funny, self-deprecating, political, heartfelt, etc. While Ruben and I are probably not destined to be friends, I do feel like I get a peek into the man’s psyche. And based on the mish-mash of genres throughout Multi-Love, that is an active and fruitful space. Its almost as if Nielsen is trapped in a bubble straining to record a song in just one genre, be it folk, funk or disco. But the confines of the bubble means that he can’t fully commit to one sound. So while a song might be more funk-based, the other genres are always in there somewhere, sometimes subtle as can be. The more and more I listen to UMO, the more and more I am reminded of Beck. Another artist who has boundless influences and who’s creativity knows no boundaries.

The album’s driving force was the ending of poly-amorous relationship. Not your run of the mill breakup album but like most things about UMO, it is unique. Kate Hutchinson of The Guardian wrote a great article on the genesis of the album and what was going on in Nielsen’s head. Multi-Love is one of those albums that just gets better with every listen.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

UMO can be found here

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