While the blogosphere hyperventilates about the leak of the new Devendra Banhart album, Smokey Goes to Bear Mountain, Grows a Beard and Has an Orgy with 14 Girls Named Rain Who Have Hairy Arm Pits and Went to Vassar, another, far better folk album has gone practically unnoticed: Tung's Good Arrows.
I attribute the lack of attention alloted to the London-based sextet, to the fact that the name Tunng inevitably conjures up nightmarish images of unappetizing sandwiches that you may or may not find at your local overpriced delicatessen. But rest assured that along with Monkey Swallows the Universe's similarly excellent, The Casket Letters (see Ian Mathers' outstanding Stylus review), the Tunng album is one of the best folk records made this year, one that proves that in the year 2007 the Brits apparently have a monopoly on good but melancholy folk bands with really stupid names.
Just 42 minutes, Good Arrows is a collection of 11 beautiful wistful meditations; acoustic guitars fleshed out by patches of electronic tinkering that beef up the record's frail sound and help brighten its down-tempo mood. The band has been compared to the Beta Band and Four Tet and I'd say those comparisons are apt. Though unlike those two bands, Tunng don't really make stoner headphone trips, but instead craft soothing music for the come-down, when the high has worn off and you need a record to stop your thoughts from careening like pinballs. Plus, if you cop it, you'll get the chance to approach a record store clerk and ask him or her for some Tunng. And really, how many times are you gonna' get to do that in your life without getting arrested?
Buy Good Arrows
From 2006's Comments of the Inner Chorus
From 2005's Mothers Daughters and Other Songs
MP3: Tunng-"Tale from Black"
B-Side from "The Pioneer" Single
MP3: Tunng-"Pool Beneath the Pond"