Crate-Digging Quick Takes: Jumbling Towers – Classy Entertainment EP

Quick Takes strike again!

(self released, 2008)

Maybe I should just suck it up and give in. I don’t like Destroyer, or Dan Bejar. But then along comes Jumbling Towers, where lead Jumbler (or Tower?) Josiah DeBoer does his Dan Bejar impression, and I love it. Why is that? Does that mean I should give the Destroyer catalog another listen? Or is it there something else to it, something that Jumbling Towers has that Dan Bejar doesn’t? Why does it bother me so much that no matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t dothe Bejar thing?

I’m not here, though, to debate the merits of Destroyer, I’m here to cheer on Jumbling Towers, so let’s get that straight and behind us immediately. DeBoer certainly sounds like Bejar, but he also calls to mind equally over-the-top performers like Bejar buddy Carey Mercer, Roxy Music, and that one song on Velvet Goldmine, “Baby’s on Fire” by The Venus in Furs. The one that Jonathan Rhys-Meyers sings. These are all good spirits to channel, and an energy similar to these projects is palpable throughout this six-song EP. DeBoer plays the prancing dandy, the foppish rogue like a pro (“I want it fast and I want it done right … yes I want to be flagrant” from “Apartments”), wrapping cheeky wordplay around the meaty organ lines and driving rhythms. He affects a wild faux-Brit accent constantly, and it’s a nice touch, an homage to his heroes (or maybe “Heroes” if you catch my drift), and a surreal wink at the audience who realizes he’s from St. Louis. It’s a fabulous put-on.

So what is this “classy entertainment” they’re trying to sell? It’s a pretty targeted satirical stab at first-world problems, I think anyway, as “classy” and “entertainment” should rarely find each other in the same sentence, let alone the same paragraph. The Towers clearly enjoy wrapping themselves around oxymoronic conceit – take, again, “Apartments”: “You want apartments / You want a place to call your own / You want a place you can do your wrong / A place to keep your magazines, your floppy disks, and a stash of all that smut.” Smut, eh? That’s what everybody keeps behind closed doors? OK, I’ll buy that – wander down any alley in any city and pop in any door and I’ll bet the over/under on smut piles is at least 50 percent. (Gotta love that reference to floppy disks in 2008, too!)

It’s not all weirdo pomp, though, as “Sal” is a down-tempo piano ditty and “Gamble” closes the EP in a wheezy, smoky, carnivalesque atmosphere. (Think Man Man on Quaaludes, maybe.) “Fortune” is a riotous glam-punk romp led by wiry guitar, and finds DeBoer in an oxygen-gulping fit, barely able to push enough words out through his hiccupping delivery, even though there are barely any in the song. But the true standout element is the play-acting delivery of Josiah DeBoer, an intoxicating mix of devilish winking and wallowing in the devilish acts he’s winking at – actually, it’s probably what Vincent Gallo sounds like in his own head. But even more pretentious. In a good way.

OK then. Stir well, spill on floor, lick up. Enjoy.

RIYL: Destroyer, Frog Eyes, Roxy Music, The Venus in Furs, what Vincent Gallo probably sounds like in his own head




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