Wednesday, November 10, 2010


BNS Presents The Billy Nayer Show
By The Billy Nayer Show

I was surprised a few weeks ago by an email from artist extraordinaire Cory McAbee saying that there was a new Billy Nayer Show CD finished and available for download.  It has been too long since there was new material from the band, so, needless to say, I jumped over to the site and immediately downloaded BNS Presents The Billy Nayer Show.

It was not a bad decision.

In fact, it was a damn fine decision, and one I heartily encourage others to make.

It's kind of strange listening to McAbee and Co. performing music that isn't related to one of their film ventures.  Granted, there have only been two feature releases (and one bizarre musical performance/art piece) before this, but those are the past works that really made me love this band.

My first exposure to Cory McAbee was when a friend sent me a link to a YouTube video of a musical number from the Outer Space Musical Western, The American Astronaut (2001).  The song was called "Hey Boy" and I was hooked within moments.  Here's why:

It tapped right into my love of lo-fi, country-tinged music and all things bizarre. That's Cory in the toilet, by the way.  It wasn't long before I'd tracked down the film and was thoroughly entertained by the strange twists and turns, and the way the film was able to effortlessly move from touching moments to disturbing creepiness to downright silliness.

McAbee's band, The Billy Nayer Show has been around for years, but this was my first experience with them.  I loved the music from The American Astronaut, so I found more work by the band and discovered that every piece of music they've released has been thoroughly enjoyable, whether it's a song with crunchy guitars and dirty lyrics or an innocent lullaby. 

For example, "Ham":

Then, word of a second feature arrived, another Outer Space Musical Western (this time divided into six approximately ten minute episodes and downloadable directly from the Cory McAbee website), called Stingray Sam (2009). It hit on many of the same aesthetic notes of The American Astronaut, but showed a bit more flair in the editing and overall structure, and a bit more heart with its pleasant tale of two outlaws on a mission to rescue a little girl from a galactic despot.

Every chapter centered around a musical number and there wasn't a dud in the bunch; this little ditty, for example, "Mars":

McAbee has a gift for combining extremely catchy rhythms and clever lyrics with music that nicely bounces along the dual edges of "raw" and "tight." If that makes any sense.

Anyway, while all of McAbee's output has been fantastic, there hasn't been a lot (at least not enough to satisfy my cravings), so, as I mentioned at the top of this, when I heard there was a new CD, I was on it.

The CD starts very strong with a new song, "Henry Joe," and an older song, "Reno" back-to-back (and they can be sampled HERE), both of which perfectly capture the feel of the band.  There's a noticeable maturing of the band's sound from the earlier work, but at the same time, this is without a doubt, pure Billy Nayer Show.

About halfway through the CD, we are treated to one of my favorite pieces, "Glue":

As with the best of The Billy Nayer Show's songs, this one tells a surreal story in clever rhyme that combines innocence with a touch of the naughty, while the music marches along powerfully, turning on a dime and changing direction masterfully.  To be honest, most of the songs on this CD can be described in very similar terms.  Some songs, like "Rainy Days," start out sounding like children's songs or lullabies before taking darker lyrical turns toward "spiritual glory holes" and such.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that there are even times that the music reminds me of Tom Waits, with an almost hand-made feel that sounds like parts could have been recorded in a barn using old rusted pieces of machinery.  And I mean that in the best way possible.

I'll close out this post with one more video. This time it's one of the closing songs from the CD, "James Gang," performed live and perfectly capturing the sound and feel of the studio version, with just a hint more mayhem.  If this one doesn't win you over, then there's no hope for you.

Now get yourself over to the website and order you some Billy Nayer Show, or even The American Astronaut and/or Stingray Sam. I don't think you'll be disappointed with any of it.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh! After further perusing the Billy Nayer Show site, it seems that a lot of old CDs that hadn't been available the last time I went looking are now back in stock!

    Very nice!