Anomoanon at Tokyo Rose


By Mark Grabowski

We were all in a state of flux at Tokyo Rose last Thursday night. Pulling us down into the basement club was Anomoanon (I believe it rhymes with "phenomenon"), folk-rock at its finest.

Pushing us back upstairs, away from the sound and fury, was the irrepressible heat of a packed Rose. It's funny to think about, but there is a relationship between how well attended a Rose show is and the necessity for missing some of it. The bigger the artist, the more people, and therefore the hotter the room. The hotter the room, the greater the necessity for going back upstairs to regain one's sanity. Therefore, the bigger the artist, the more show one will miss.

Anomoanon is led by the charismatic Ned Oldham, who sings, writes most of the songs, and plays guitar. Also on the dimly lit Tokyo Rose stage, performing together for the first time anywhere, were his brothers Will and Paul, indie rock celebrities in their own right.

The Oldham boys have quite the musical dynasty going: Will Oldham, founder of Palace Music (and Palace Songs, and Palace Brothers, and Palace), has released at least 30 singles and albums since the early 1990s, all with his own personal take on alt-country. He has been known to play the Rose with some frequency, and his shows always spark a huge turnout– Will is probably the most famous member of the Oldham clan.

Brother Paul runs Rove Studios in Shelbyville, Kentucky, frequently records the other two's work, as well as that of noise-rockers Royal Trux, for whom he has worked as touring soundman and bassist.

Ned Oldham had center for the night, providing lead vocals (Anomoanon is really his project), Will provided backup vocals and guitar, and Paul played bass. Ned's voice reminds one of a young Neil Young– missing, thankfully, the fingernails on the blackboard quality that turns some people off.

The Oldhams like their rock country-tinged, and while Ned's take on this genre is decidedly more upbeat than Will's (All Music Guide describes Will's music as "somber, bittersweet, nocturnal, melancholy, brooding"), all the elements of the Oldham sound were present– sometimes high-pitched warbling vocals and guitar picking were the predominant features. There was also some small element of the psychedelic to Anomoanon's sound– they even played a cover of "Loser" by the Grateful Dead, to put the point across more forcefully.

Anomoanon recently released an EP, Envoi Villon (with words from 15th-century poet Francois Villon), which seemed to be the record the Oldham boys were touring around, but nobody was quite sure. The Oldhams could have been out just to spread some brotherly love and have a good time– and from the looks on their faces, I'd say they succeeded splendidly.


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