A backward glance

In what’s dubbed in typically efficient fashion on its website, tomorrow night is “Looking back 1998 Tokyo Rose” at the Ivy Road sushi bar/club. The players:
Draw the Kitten counts Don Harrison and D.R. Tyler Magill in the nucleus of its revolving cast. Harrison and Magill both write for 64 magazine, the Richmond-based monthly devoted to the arts in Virginia, where the former’s an associate editor, the latter a contributing writer. They can also be heard on the airwaves spinning records at WTJU, during their eclectic Radio Wowsville shows.
The athletic tastes they display on the air make the jump onto their own disc. Rough mixes from Draw the Kitten’s Eternity with Numbers album sound anything but. It sounds like open-record collection surgery: the seams between samples and live instruments don’t show on a rabbit-hole freefall past collage-happy, sunny pop; lyrics with more references than you can shake sticks at; and tastes of Pavement, Prince Paul, and Jimmie Rodgers for starters.    
    Parker Paul, a.k.a. Paul Wilkinson, used to be a fixture upstairs at the Rose (he’s also collaborated with Harrison and Magill), serenading upon the piano weekly among the soy and chopsticks. He’s released two albums— including last October’s Wingfoot— on Jagjaguwar Records, the small indie label formed in Charlottesville and since relocated to Bloomington, Indiana.
    Armed with an idiosyncratic eye for detail, Parker Paul spins piano-based vignettes in a watery croon that verges on the out of tune. There’s a scrim of intoxication over a lot of the material; his narrators report on events with a selectivity that can be almost opaquely abstract or possess a drunkard’s candor. Goes one line: “The people who tell lies/About their crappy childhoods/Probably had crappy childhoods."
    Nad Navillus is another assumed name, this one masking fellow Jagjaguwarian Dan Sullivan. Sullivan’s been to the Rose before, last summer, as the guitarist for the Songs:Ohia (who take the desolation and loneliness of Appalachia and make stark, affecting work). He keeps to the guitar in this incarnation as well, erecting simple songs that count John Fahey’s guitar work and early-period Jackson Browne as ancestors.
    Atsushi Miura, the owner of the Tokyo Rose, has returned to playing upstairs weekly, stepping down from the sushi bar late Monday nights to trade his chef’s hat for a songwriter’s. With a sharp, droll wit and an open-hearted plainspoken spirit (and bent-to-broken English), he sings, in a surprisingly high croon, about not being an alcoholic, the difficulties of finding love, and how boring Charlottesville is.
    In his perennial favorite, the sing-alongable “I Hate Charlottesville,” he recounts a friend’s visit and the difficulties in finding ways to amuse his guest. Spoiled UVA kids get in the way, the downtown mall’s fun— for five minutes— and there’s the umpteenth visit to Monticello. “I hate Charlottesville/Too boring,” he sings. But not tonight.

Parker Paul, Nad Navillus, Draw the Kitten, and Atsushi Miura perform at Tokyo Rose, Friday, March 29. $5, 10pm.

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