“Lectured on by a music professor in Brazil.” Quite a feat for a band that only had two casual EPs at the time. Far away in Hamilton, Ontario, Mark Dean, Billy Holmes, and Sandy Johnston make music that shifts beneath the old comfortable feel of a hometown. Dark Mean wears the clothes of something familiar but has layers of costumed surprises hidden under. Like riding in a car next to someone for hours, to suddenly discover them to be immensely talented only minutes later. The nostalgic “Happy Banjo” does indeed feature delightful finger-picking from an instrument that has seen the world. But as with so much of Dark Mean’s music, the contentedness in the music doesn’t reach the words. If you listen to the former, you’ll hear a conflicted narrative about loneliness, death and a happiness that comes with being without someone. Such a combination makes “Happy Banjo” a tune for a variety of occasions. Once, for your moments of defiant anguish, and another during the most carefree Fall days.
Dark Mean – Happy Banjo by The Wounded Jukebox
(The self-titled Dark Mean is available now)