Normal Street is another salvo in ESP-Disk’s Drive to Revive Weird Rock!
Please get your download here: https://paintedfacesesp.bandcamp.com/album/normal-street
1. Normal Street
2. An American Werewolf in Ridgewood
3. Paranoid Dollhouse
4. Forest Techno
5. Playing the Field: The Ambassador Prowls
6. Cult of the Ghost Shark
1. Laughing Charlie
2. Watching Tremors 2 at Work
3. Contact Mind
All music written/recorded/produced by David Drucker at The Skinny Apartment, 2021.
Cameron Christopher Stuart plays harmonica on “Paranoid Dollhouse.” David Drucker plays everything else.
Mastered by Thomas Miritello.
Cover art by Charles Comer.
Writer/musician/film maker Chris Shields says:
Near the DIY venue,
cooperative, and punk/freak haven, The Firehouse, in Worcester, Mass, there’s a
street ironically named “Normal St.” I was lucky enough to be playing a gig
with Painted Faces there a few years back. Driving up the steep, labyrinthine roads
we spotted the green sign, had a laugh owing to some solid riffing by all
present, and then, moved on. The gig was good, the people great, and the
memories, the stuff that makes time on earth meaningful. Little did I know
Normal Street would return. Considering David Drucker’s body of work and his
unique brand of free form expression and clever pastiche, I shouldn’t have been
surprised. When you listen to Painted Faces what you’re hearing is a mind at
When Drucker begins to
write and record, every dumb sign, bad horror movie, seemingly innocuous turn
of phrase, petty embarrassment, transcendent joke, and musical influence are
drawn together like iron filings to a magnet. What results is a document of a
particular point in time for the artist. There are infectiously haunting hooks
and raw atonal passages, cheap synths (and as time goes on less cheap ones),
simple but effective chords, ramshackle percussion (a plastic toy maraca passed
among audience members that refuses to die), and a host of other elements that
all add up to something very special and deeply personal. It’s a portrait of
the artist as a freak. But, funnily enough, as Painted Faces produces record
after record, those who refuse to “get it” appear to be the weird ones.
On his latest album, Normal Street, the story continues. The
title track opens with a nebulous cloud of beeps and squeals which slowly give
way to more solid melodic form. Drucker, always searching for ever freakier and
liberated pastures, walks a particularly unique line between unpredictably
risky experimentation and skillful songcraft. It’s this interplay that makes
Painted Faces truly original and exciting. What “works” is totally relative,
and through his long honed practice of trying things, he has created his own
sonic vocabulary. Simply put, what I’ve always loved about Painted Faces is his
ability to face the possibility of nothingness, or perhaps incoherency, with
humor and, often, beauty. Normal Street
is certainly not “nothing.” What it is, however, is another
important dispatch from an artist who has crafted his own expressive language
from the detritus of pop, the avant-garde, indie, punk, psychedelic, folk, and
a host of other more rigid musical idioms.
The album’s second track, “An American Werewolf in Ridgewood,”
continuing Drucker’s “Ridgewood saga,” is a perfectly bummed out shoegaze
rocker with hazy vocals buried deep in the mix and drums ping ponging in your
head. It ends almost before it really gets going and begs you to hit repeat. “Paranoid Dollhouse” is a massively
damaged noise track in the vein of Smegma and Hijokaidan, where guitars frolic
outside of normal constraints and a variety of sounds come and go without
warning. It’s a junk drawer track in the best way and pleasantly familiar listening
for those who pine for the days of destructive analogue noise. On “Forest Techno” we get our
first taste of Drucker’s nebbish Bowie vocals and his idiosyncratic, spacious
guitar strumming. Midway the songcraft is interrupted by an invasion of circular,
percussive noise, taking the track in a completely unexpected direction.
Indeed, maybe more than ever, noise prevails with tracks like “Cult of Ghost Shark” and “Laughing Charlie,” where
distant field recordings phase in and out of crackling static, synths drone and
squeal, and ethereal echoes softly blast.
Normal Street is a fractured collection of songs, sounds, ideas, sometimes brief and other times delicately sustained; its stream of consciousness mischievousness bringing to mind Zappa and the Mothers filtered through the angst of bedroom pop and tape label minimalism. Many artists hope to embody Drucker’s “Outback Steakhouse” approach (“No rules. Just right”) but few have achieved such consistently fun results. Normal Street is no exception. With his latest, Drucker continues to stand peering down into the abyss, his toes barely holding onto the crumbling edge of good taste. But it’s here, though, that cool things become possible and as we listen to his latest, we hear the joy and freedom he’s found for himself and his music. It’s another chapter in a long strange trip to the bodega and back.
“Painted Faces is
the vehicle for the twisted dreamscapes of David Drucker, who released a long
string of DIY CD-Rs and cassettes before 2019’s Tales from the Skinny Apartment.
Song titles like “I Took Too Much Acid in 7th Grade” and “Chicks That Are into
Beefheart (and Jandek)” offer a hint of the outsider freakfest Drucker rolls out,
using acoustic guitars, electronics, and anything else at his disposal.”
– Jim Allen, Bandcamp Daily