Boldly taking their name from a vaunted John Cale record, Timothy Bracy and Shannon McArdle, being two of the main contributors to The Mendoza Line, have spun off to record an urban, prog, country/folk album that they can call their own. An apt name it is, as the duo sing drawn out, contemplative songs recorded amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City. In “A Welfare State,” Bracy sings a line from the Coen Brothers’ beautiful film, Miller’s Crossing: “nothing’s as silly as a man chasing his hat.” Like the film, The View From the Floor is a philosophical departure that some will get and appreciate, and others will find boring and self-involved.
I’ll start out by saying that I love the Coen Brothers and that Miller’s Crossing is my favorite film of theirs. Each viewing brings up something different, something I either missed the first time, is brilliant in its simplicity, or equally as brilliant in its complexity. One of my favorite lines has the Italian mob boss giving a quick lesson on shaving, wherein he relates that you should always shave with cold water as it makes the metal of the blade contract, thus giving you a finer, closer shave. It is small subtleties like this one that makes the movie so great and what also makes Slow Dazzle’s side project so accomplished. Bracy and McArdle still have the same wonderful Bob Dylan/Jenny Lewis style vocals, its just that this time, instead of with the full backup of the Mendoza Line, they have sparse backup instrumentation that sometimes includes electronics. This is no Postal Service mind you. It’s more of the type of stuff you would hear from each member of the Velvet Underground after they split.
For those expecting something similar to Fortune, be warned that this has very little in common with the Wilcoesque tunes that have come before. This is the sound of the country mouse moving in with the city mouse, marrying folk sensibility with modern instruments and literate atmospheres. If Bob Dylan had hung out with Brian Eno, this is what the result might sound like. This is another similarity to Miller’s Crossing. Here’s two Minneapolis boys writing about warring Italian and Irish mobsters, yet while at the same time, telling the story of Tom Reagan (supposed to resemble Tom Hagen of The Godfather, maybe?) who is somewhat of a philosophical Ronin, having to fight for survival on his own, switching loyalties and flowing with the wind. To get everything that’s going on, you have to pay attention, and maybe even watch it more than two times. The same is true for Slow Dazzle. I won’t say it again. I don’t want to be the one who said, “I told you so.”
Bob Dylan- Desire
Lou Reed- Lou Reed
Cowboy Junkies- The Trinity Session