Okay where to begin. How about this one? Andre Herman-Dune (aka Stanley Banks) is one half of nakedly enchanting Swedish band Herman Dune, alongside his brother David, specializing in a cloying and playful mix of Velvets poise/mystery and a Jad Fair/Jonathan Richman innocence. In performance, they’re a revelation of contradictions, skinny dudes with scraggly beards and hair, hidden behind sunglasses, rumpled thrift-store garb and clouds of cigarette smoke, with pretty girls dancing wildly all around them. But this album ain’t that, for Taglich Brot is the audio diary of Andre stepping away from his brother — everyone needs a little room from family — and crafting his first proper solo album. And it’s so fucking good!
Spare, lo-fi and ramshackle, easy hummable tunes are built around acoustic guitar and Dune’s quavery, delicate voice, sometimes speaking more than singing, reminding me of Lou Reed, Phil Elvrum and John Darnielle but with a gorgeous European lilt. Other instruments pop in and out, for quick visits and assignations, and the roomy, crackly recording quality (some tracks were recorded directly onto a computer, others on four-track) only add to the gleeful spontaneity of the whole affair. Taglich Brot has a total Basement Tapes casual vibe to it, inspired very much by, and rooted in, place — in this case, one side is dedicated to New York songs and one side is dedicated to Berlin songs. Often songs seem to be made up on the spot and there’s such a great feel of ease and fondness in the performances, Dune’s cadence often reminds me of Dylan’s, like he’s completely in love with language and the way the words feel just falling off his tobacco-stained tongue.
I didn’t notice it as much on the Berlin songs (I’m an imperialist running dog), but the New York songs are smitten love letters to the little corner of Brooklyn he was staying in — and he justifies his love with a cinematic sweep of scenery and people that almost bring to mind a K-Records lovin’ Woody Allen — so Dune perfectly sums up his part of the City and makes Greenpointe sound like the coolest place on Earth. It’s all in the details, turns of a phrase, the name of a train, and suddenly I’m really jealous of my friends up there and their secret parks. I like to think that the songs on each side were written in tiny flats at night in each city, after long days of wandering, getting lost on purpose, emptying pockets of little trinkets and treasures and writing these songs like little postcards. Songs are folky and rambling, some have a swing, a looseness, often tripping over their own feet, getting lost, then happily coming back around to where they started, still smiling. Save your money on travel guides and buy this instead.
Herman Dune: www.hermandune.com