It’s hard to complain about a job that puts you in a position where hopelessly out-of-touch rock writers who think the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney released the best records of 2005 email the Village Voice to call you a “twat.” This, after all, is exactly the kind of validation we’re all looking for. But you know what? I stand by my childhood dream and declare that I’d still rather be playing baseball. Yet since I have no real athletic ability, I’ve had to settle for baseball of the fantasy variety, which I can play from the comfort of my desk chair. It’s slightly less exciting than the real thing, but it allows me to play God, and obviously there’s nothing better than that. So now, for our third-annual Brooklyn Issue, I’ve decided to see what would happen if those powers would carry over into other areas of life, and I give you the All-Brooklyn Fantasy Band.
Craig Finn The Hold Steady
(Lead Vocals and Guitar)
I might be asking a lot of Craig Finn, who will have to rock lead vocals and guitar here, but when he goes all Springsteen on us and slings his telecaster around his back, it’s kind of impossible not to want to listen to his ca-razy stories about punk rock kids struggling with — what else? — sex, drugs and religion. He drinks a ton on stage too, which is always a plus.
The National (Bass)
Ok, so this dude isn’t exactly Geddy Lee or anything, but we need someone who’s not afraid to hang out in the background and quietly do his job. With the National’s more raucous past, Dessner has the ability to keep up with more energetic songs, but can also easily fall into a slow, steady groove and let things unfold around him. He’s a utility player too: If Finn gets too drunk and falls down, Bryce can step in and play guitar as well.
Laura Cantrell (Backup Vocals)
This band clearly needs a touch of class, and who better to provide it than the lovely Laura Cantrell, who could sing background vocals for a screaming child and turn it into something enjoyable. Her countrified urbanite (or urbanized country girl) thing will serve as a nice counterpoint in a band that could easily wind up being on the abrasive side. Bonus points for her ability to get the band played on WFMU.
John Linnell They Might Be Giants
(Accordion/Other Weird Stuff)
Because what would an All-Brooklyn Fantasy Band be without at least one of the Johns? We could have gone with Flansburgh, but whatever: I’m in charge here, and Linnell’s always been my favorite. His abundance of experience coupled with his ability to multitask makes him an invaluable component. And, sorry John, but you’ll help us reach a slightly older demo.
Dana Feder Matt Pond PA (Cello)
Oh man, shit’s getting
orchestral now, people. I’m not in the business of assembling played-out fucking guitar/bass/drum trios here. I need writers to call us “lush,” and in order for that to happen, we’ll need layers. Good thing for us, we’ve got Dana Feder, who hails from Boston, but plays in a band that’s based in Brooklyn but named after Pennsylvania, on cello.
David Nagler (Keys/Arrangements)
Now, obviously, we’ve assembled a pretty wacky group of musicians with wildly varied taste and skills, so we’ll need to have someone on board who can keep everything together. Chris Mills called on David Nagler to help him rein in the 17-piece orchestra he used on his brilliant 2005 release, The Wall to Wall Sessions, and he came up with some straight-up classic arrangements. Homeboy can hold his own on the old ivories as well.
Jerry Fuchs Turing Machine/Juan Maclean (Drums)
Brooklyn’s overflowing with average drummers who can hold their own in a standard rock setting, but Jerry Fuchs separates himself from the pack with the kind of chops nerds would classify as “math rock” and even bigger nerds would classify as “prog.” Regardless, he hits hard and does weird shit, making him the ideal candidate.
Now, I don’t know who else is going to be in our league, but I think we stand a pretty good chance of coming out on top at the end of the season. I mean, who’s gonna be our biggest competition? Omaha? Please. Manhattan? What the hell kind of bands can afford to live in Manhattan? Philly could give us a run for our money, but honestly? I’m not too worried. It’s going to be a glorious year, but then that’s it. We’re gonna burn out faster than the Test Icicles.