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Head of Femur

Ringodom Or Proctor demo

Greyday Productions

Guest review by Stephen Sheehan

I will try as a reviewer to do my best to contain my enthusiasm about this band but no promises. I saw one of their first-ever gigs on April Fool's Day in 2002 and I will never forget it. I had no idea who they were or what to expect. They were the second band that night and by the time they were set up to play there were so many of them on stage with so much instrumentation that I wondered what kind of noise they might unleash. I had no expectations nor did I prepare for them (other than donning my usual Yoke of Disappointment that I comfortably adjust before any new musical experience), but I can tell you honestly and earnestly that I didn't want them to stop playing. Ever.

Within the current indie or underground music scene exists a mostly youthful conglomerate of visionaries whose songs and bands reflect many of the signs of artistic adolescence, chief among them being self-doubt (or loathing) and a limited range within their compositions and performances. As a result, there is very little risk-taking both in terms of writing and in the channeling of the muse. As a consequence, we're often offered unripened efforts fancifully presented by artists that substitute exuberance for mastery, resulting in a ragged meal of sour or bitter fruits that proves insubstantial and lacking in the nutrition and satiation that our souls crave and require. We yearn to be uplifted; we're usually let down.

The first thing I heard within the music of Head of Femur was a suspiciously broad range of references and influences, some of which were probably older than most of the band members. I noticed the Idiot Glee heard on Brian Eno's first and second solo albums, Here Come The Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), along with the joyful bounciness of the Talking Heads debut 77 that somehow merged with the cool cultivation of the early Roxy Music records and dovetailed into a few psychedelic pop acts of the 1960s such as Love (the Forever Changes era) and the Left Banke and topped with a pinch of Van Dyke Parks' wry humor. The swirl of tone colors and the richness in the songs' dynamics and arrangements are what set this band far apart from any of its peers, of which they have none or very few at best. Frankly, I hadn't heard musical concepts this well-written or executed in so long that I resigned myself to the idea that The Golden Age of Sophisticated and Ebulliently Orchestrated Art-Pop was long over. Thank God and Head of Femur for proving me wrong.

Although they are not on Saddle Creek Records nor entirely based in Omaha, the Femurs have many connections to both the city and the label. So far about half of HOF have played in Bright Eyes. Some of them were/are in Commander Venus, Gabardine and Mayday, and they’ve recorded their songs in Lincoln’s Presto! Studios with A.J. Mogis where nearly every Saddle Creek album has taken form. So in a weird, parallel universe sort of way, HOF appears on the surface to be a collective of great supporting players with impressive resumes that write and perform incredible songs that none of their “employers” could ever muster. They are not a “supergroup” in the cliché rockist sense, but they are indeed a super group. It is clear without debate that even now Head of Femur and its music are already playing a pivotal role in the on-going growth and development of the history of the Omaha music world by gradually lifting the bar in a somewhat incestuous and nepotistic environment that accepts anything and anyone with little regard for discernment. If any band can shine a light on the rainy clouds of enthusiastic indifference that float over this little world by restoring the audience’s faith in artistic achievement and merit, it’s the Femurs.

Watch for the full-length debut of Head of Femur, Ringodom Or Proctor on Greyday Productions (www.greydayproductions.com) in the summer of 2003 or order the demo now from their Web site (www.headoffemur.com). You can catch HOF as the opening act on the final dates of the Bright Eyes tour in May. Be sure to get there early and taste the love of all things Femur.


back torevhead.gif (1924 bytes)   Posted April 20, 2003. Copyright 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Rating: Yes

Obligatory pull-quote: "It is clear without debate that even now Head of Femur and its music are already playing a pivotal role in the on-going growth and development of the history of the Omaha music world by gradually lifting the bar in a somewhat incestuous and nepotistic environment that accepts anything and anyone with little regard for discernment."