Playing on Prefix is a feature on KCRW’s Music Blog where writers from the eclectic music site Prefix hip you to what’s coming out of their computer speakers this week.
Andrew Cedermark is, among other things, a graduate of the University of Virginia, an arts editor who looks the part, and an indie-rock musician. So you’d be forgiven for assuming that he creates the sort of too-smart music that made some of his fellow UVA alumni (Stephen Malkmus, David Berman) fairly popular with the critics. Cedermark’s music is certainly a heck of a lot bigger than Pavement’s or Silver Jews.’ He has described it as “shoegaze/shoegaze/shoegaze,” and he lists among his influences Neil Young and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Regardless of the irony that might be at play there, that gets to the heart of what Cedermark’s music is all about: wide-eyed Americana submerged in atmosphere and noise.
Moon Deluxe, his debut, is a glorious mess. He transitions from demented acoustic ditties to cathartic anthems to waltzes that sound like they’re being played from the bottom of the ocean, all without breaking his mumble; it has the feeling of a mad man recording in one breathless, incoherent take. And when Cedermark does rouse himself to speak and play clearly, as on album highlight “Hard Livin’,” it’s to make the sort of grand, shit-kicking anthem that few these days are capable of.
Which makes enough sense: Cedermark used to play guitar in Titus Andronicus, one of those aforementioned few. Striking out on his own, though, was probably a good idea. Moon Deluxe, as bombastic as it gets, has the feel of a man painstakingly executing his own detailed vision. And it’s not hard to imagine Cedermark cringing at some of Titus frontman Patrick Stickles’ more purple declarations: Cedermark’s lyrical concerns, insofar as they can be discerned (he’s mumbling most of the time, after all), are more obtuse than his fellow Jerseyan’s are.
Cedermark is on Underwater Peoples, part-time home of such uber-chill Brooklyn-based acts as Real Estate and Ducktails. So it wouldn’t be surprising if Cedermark, like every other much-buzzed indie band, mulled a move to NYC. But, still, this is music that would make more sense in some shitty Charlottesville bar than it would in some shitty Williamsburg D.I.Y. spot: grand, fist-pumping, hopeful, and unabashedly American.
– By Daniel Kolitz