I used to have a Livejournal, and Kimya Dawson was on my “friends list,” meaning I could read her journal entries. She was always a cheerful yet honest writer. Kimya shared photos of her lovely self, her bearded-and-bespectacled-husband, and her baby dressed in gender-neutral colors. I quickly admired this plus-sized woman with body modifications and tattoos, going about being a mother, wife, and artist, all in her own way.
Both Kimya's music and overall personality seemed to lack the superficial posturing many other folks demonstrate. Needless to say, I was inspired. Unfortunately, many women completely sacrifice their work (creative and otherwise) in order to care for their families, and I was happy to see Kimya balancing both her family and her art—a difficult task, to say the least. However, to supply time and energy to our loved ones and personal projects, that time and energy needs to be taken away from something, or someone, else.
This leads us to Kimya's latest creative endeavor: performing with a band called The Bundles that consists of Jeffrey Lewis, Jack Lewis, Anders Griffen, and Karl Blau. Although this album is their debut, the group itself is not exactly new. These folks originally started The Bundles about eight years ago, developing songs and performing shows. However, they never actually recorded any of the songs. The band members drifted to solo work and other bands, and it wasn't until recently that they were able to finally come together to record their self-titled album.
Kimya has inspired me yet again by reconnecting with her old friends and finishing what they started a very long time ago. The first song, “A Common Chorus,” tells us from the beginning, “Don't forget about your friends.” Jeffrey Lewis' voice has a Jonathan Richman cadence about it, no matter how heated he gets. Kimya's familiar childlike vocals are alternately soothing and scurrying through the syllables. I was also surprised to hear her growl a little bit on “Ishalicious!”
Aside from trading vocals, Jeffrey and Kimya sometimes clash in complete cacophony. “Shamrock Glamrock” is like listening to all of your pans fall out of the cupboards and hit the linoleum at once. But my favorite sound is when Jeffrey and Kimya harmonize with a full chorus singing in the background.
The Bundles' lyrics often alluded me. Was that “phoenix out of the ash” or “kleenex out of the glass?” My advance promotional copy didn't come with any liner notes. I often picked up on radical references and silly tidbits, like the ones on “Jello Biafra and Hello Kitty.”
Musically speaking, I enjoyed the guitars and drums. They switch from wholesome acoustic chords to floating electric fingering, depending on mood. I can't recall hearing Anders Griffen's drums before, but I'm pretty amazed! It's hard not to play “air drums” to many of these tracks.
“In the Beginning” seems to showcase the best of everyone. The music for “Metal Mouth” is solid, while the lyrics are hilariously juvenile, reminding me of something my heroes, Ween, would do. The ending is “Be Yourself,” which is a mellow sort of “good bye” track.
So there we have it: The Bundles is a fun, capable collection serving as closure for old friends.