…has been my favorite new band for the past year or so. Below I’ll embed some of their videos in the hope that I can make you like them, too.
This is the first Moriarty song that I heard: “Private Lily,” from their debut album, Gee Whiz But This Is a Lonesome Town (2007, Naïve Records):
And here’s the second one that I heard, “Jimmy”:
Moriarty is a French band. Supposedly they derived their name from Dean Moriarty, not Professor James. À la the Ramones, the band members all claim Moriarty as their surname—Rosemary Moriarty, Tom Moriarty, Arthur Moriarty, etc.
Oshkosh Bend (album version) + a live version:
For some reason, their old-timey shtick doesn’t irritate me the way so much retro-hipness does. And why is that? I’d argue that in this case, it isn’t mere affectation. Moriarty plays great music well; the rest is part of their identity, sure—but it’s secondary.[Over the past year in Chicago, I’ve noticed a resurgence in popularity in the singing saw. (I just saw someone playing one on a steet corner the other night.) With all due respect, this always raises my dander, because in each case the act seems 95% novelty: “How queer! A saw that makes musickal sounds!” It’s been the Guy Maddin fan’s instrument of choice ever since the theremin fad grew old.]
I haven’t seen Moriarty drag out a singing saw yet, but I imagine that even if they did, they’d play it well.
(I suppose it also doesn’t hurt that they’re French.)
And another version of “Enjoy the Silence” (from France’s TV5Monde, with terrible editing—but it’s a spirited performance, and there’s a short interview at the end):
“Private Lily” on TVMonde5, also jarringly edited—but it’s a great performance:
A cover of Tom Waits’s “Chocolate Jesus”:
“Animals Can’t Laugh”:
…And there’s more than that up at YouTube, if you’re interested.
Another pleasure: you’ll find there also dozens of covers of “Jimmy,” which I gather has become something of a hit in Europe (as it deserves to become elsewhere):