Part of Feb 2012 by

Idiot Glee at St. David’s Episcopal Church (2/17/2012)

James Friley — a.k.a. Idiot Glee — makes fuzzy, lo-fi doo wop that would not sound out of place emanating from a radiator in a David Lynch film. The twelve tracks on Idiot Glee’s debut LP, Paddywhack (Moshi Moshi), are as eerie as they are cheery. Vocal samples are looped and layered and looped and layered until an otherworldly chorus of disembodied voices begins to drift around like a cloud that has become lost in the ether. Nostalgia is certainly not beneath Friley, but he deconstructs and transforms sounds and styles from the past to build haunting, futuristic compositions. Friley, however, never gets too serious or dark. His charmingly cute lyrics channel the boyish crooners of the 1950s — such as Bobby Vinton and Bobby Darin — but the classically-trained pianist (since age seven) says that he was influenced heavily by the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. While I definitely hear Brian Wilson’s magnum opus within the intricate vocal layering of Paddywhack, the album sounds even more like a product of Phil Spector and Joe Meek. Oddly enough, Gary Wilson’s You Think You Really Know Me also comes to mind, though I seriously doubt that Friley has ever even heard of Gary Wilson. In other words, Paddywhack is one of those albums that is sure to drive some people — you know, the ones with more “conventional” tastes — completely bonkers.

Friley has built an impressively dedicated fan base like so many lo-fi indie bands from the 1990s, with a constant onslaught of seveninchreleases, various compilation tracks and cassingles. Yes, cassingles — and what is most amazing about this is that he is only 23-years-old, so he grew up in the post-cassette world. Of course he also has also toured a lot… From what I have heard and read, Friley recreates Idiot Glee’s songs onstage with just a keyboard and a synthesizer, looping his voice through various effects boxes. After being so perplexed and amazed by Paddywhack over the last few months, I am really curious how well Idiot Glee’s songs will translate live. And, well… I will find out soon enough! Idiot Glee will be performing in Austin on February 17th at St. David’s Episcopal Church. He will be opening for Islands.

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