HERMAN DUNE with LEIF VOLLEBEKK and BEN CAPLAN at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Thursday (January 19), 9 pm. $12.50-$15. HS, RT, SS. See listing.
David-Ivar Herman Dune of anti-folk band Herman Dune doesn't want to give me his real name, calling the stage name he's used for over a decade "real enough."
Luckily, the songs on the Parisian indie pop band's new EP, Tell Me Something I Don't Know (Strange Moosic/Sony ATV), are less vague than that, offering witty snapshots of life using unusual rhymes, thanks in part to Dune's deft use of his chosen lyrical language, American English.
The EP is a bit of a teaser in North America, where it predates the band's 10th full-length album, Strange Moosic (also the name of their new label), which has been out in Europe since last May.
"We wanted to play [the album] over here, to be honest," says the guitarist/singer on the phone from Los Angeles about the reason for the EP, "but this time it's been tougher to find a good distributor in the U.S."
The band, which also includes drummer Néman Herman Dune and, since 2008's Next Year In Zion, bassist Ben Pleng, recorded both the album and the EP during the same sessions with Adam Selzer in Portland.
"For other albums, we would have guests and treat it like a concept for the album," says Dune. "But this one was more focused on the trio, although we had friends who lived in Portland come by and add their voices to the songs."
Gone are Zion's cute, optimistic love songs and gentle horn arrangements by Beirut's Jon Natchez Bourbon Horn Players, replaced by more nuanced lyrics and a darker, rawer sound that hearkens back to early rock 'n' roll and live jams.
Prolific Dune attributes that shift to song selection.
"Maybe we leaned toward the darker songs that I had written. I try to write every day, so there were a number of them [to choose from]. Some had a dark feel, and some had a happy feel.
"[Selecting songs] is like editing a documentary. They're from a year of writing, and you want to select something that's artistically homogeneous. You can say whatever you want with a year of someone's work, I think."