JEWISH LEGEND with WOOLLY LEAVES and PRINCE NIFTY at the Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick), tonight (Thursday, December 7), 9 pm. $7. 416-923-8137. Rating: NNNNN
You'd think that having the jerky sound your band had been developing for three or four years in obscurity suddenly become fashionable would be the best possible scenario.
But the unexpected blessing for Tangiers turned out to be a curse when people unfamiliar with their backstory started writing off the Toronto post-punk crew as bandwagon-jumpers.
It's hardly surprising, then, that when Tangiers bassist James Sayce decided to pursue a law degree, singer/guitarist Josh Reichmann wanted to start fresh with a new, more personal project that allowed him to call the shots and play any or all the instruments if he so desired.
The result, the enjoyably exuberant Jewish Legend's Telepathy Now (Baudelaire) debut, sounds very much like an album made by someone with a lot of pent-up energy indulging his musical fantasies with wit and whimsy.
Unusual ideas such as a bumpin' tuba bit that Reichmann might have kept to himself during a Tangiers session were aired out and fully explored with the encouragment of production conspirator Ian McGettigan, and for Reichmann that sort of open artistic experimentation was the whole point.
"Tangiers was conceived to work within the parameters of a rock band, and there's a whole script that goes with that that relates to the instrumentation, production, how your songs fit the pop format and how they depart from it," explains Reichmann.
"This new project was meant to be a reflection of where I was personally and how I wanted to express that with sounds. It is very self-indulgent, I agree, but with some editing.
"One of my goals was to put the fun back into the whole music-making process. I felt the best way to do that was by re-engaging with my own musical language and experimenting with different instruments and constructs. There was always a lot of thinking going on with Tangiers, and I wanted to get away from that for a while. "
Although it may not be obvious the first time through the jaunty jumble of tunes on Telepathy Now, which at times recalls some of Marc Bolan's loopy exchanges with Steve Took in the pre-glam Tyrranosaurus Rex years, there is actually a message that ties everything together... apparently.
"The album's lyrical themes have to do with my heritage as the grandson of Holocaust survivors. The whole notion of who I am and where I'm from wound up being the album's dominant theme which connects all the songs, although admittedly it's done in a cryptic way.
"There's a narrative that moves from Germany to North America in the 20th century with some vague references to the Middle East, but I'm not dealing literally with any of the issues involved."
Performing the music of Telepathy Now would have been a real challenge, since Reichmann played most of the parts in the studio himself, but he wisely decided to bring in Ian McGettigan to play bass along with hotshot No Dynamics beat boss Jeremy Finkelstein, NOW Magazine's drummer of the year.
"That NOW thing is a great leverage tool for Jeremy. Whenever I suggest how something should be played, he just holds up a copy of the paper and points to that 'best drummer' part. He doesn't have to say anything any more."