In the years since signing with Paw Tracks in 2009, Mississippi native Dent May has made music that balances saccharine pop sincerity and campy affectation. His debut LP, The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele, put wry storytelling at its fore, but imbued each track with sweet strums of the titular instrument and earnest harmonies sure to arrest listeners’ sympathies. Eager to explore different styles, the two singles released since the album, “That Feeling” and “Fun,” have seen May plugging in and finding footing somewhere between 60s psychedelia and disco-era balladry in the vein of Ashford and Simpson, a vibe he expands on with his new record, Do Things.
Played entirely by himself and recorded in sessions split between his bedroom at the Cats Purring Dude Ranch and a small cabin by a cotton field outside Oxford, MS, Do Things finds the self-described “wedding reception band on acid” purveying the same heavy helpings of sentiment, but forgoing the jocular tone of his debut for a more contemplative-but still relentlessly optimistic-demeanor. Underneath the shiny veneer of synthesizer filigrees and harmonious coos, May zooms in on such timeless subjects as the nature of friendship, finding purpose in a world that seems devoid of it, and dealing with insistent feelings of malaise. “Funk” is certainly a word that’s written all over the album, and May’s Orange Juice-ian take on it lends songs like “Best Friend” and “Don’t Wait Too Long” a sprightly boogie and conjures images of soft-lit rooms and mirror balls. When not thumping and grooving, Do Things bops and sways along the psych-pop avenues of “Tell Her” and the ascending melodies of “Find It.” Full of stylistic changes but retaining May’s singular voice, Do Things is a great step forward for the pop devotee.
Dent May writes and records homemade pop music in Mississippi, where he was born in 1985. He began songwriting at age 12. The following year, he started a band called Flood, who covered Creed and 311 and sold homemade cassettes to classmates. In high school, heavily influenced by Elvis Costello and The Cars, Dent fronted a power-pop band called The Rockwells. Feeling like an outsider in Mississippi, he retreated to the Internet, where he spent his time soaking in pop music and culture from around the globe.
After dropping out of NYU film school, Dent founded Oxford, Mississippi’s self-proclaimed “infotainment cult” Cats Purring. Since then, his musical endeavors have included a debut LP of ukulele tunes on Paw Tracks, dance recordings under the Dent Sweat moniker, and a mysterious unfinished psych-country rock opera called Cowboy Maloney’s Electric City. He throws notorious DIY shows at his home, a former Boys & Girls club now deemed the Cats Purring Dude Ranch.
Recent singles on Forest Family and Paw Tracks have found Dent abandoning the ukulele in favor of cosmic synths, funky guitars, analog drum machines, loopy bass lines, and massive vocal harmonies. He played all the instruments on his new album Do Things, which was recorded at the Dude Ranch and in a friend’s rural cabin by a cotton field. Do Things will be released by Paw Tracks on June 12, 2012.
3/14 Austin, TX – KVRX @ Spider House – 2:15pm
3/15 Austin, TX – Solid Gold @ Cheer Up Charlie’s – TBA
3/15 Austin, TX – Paw Tracks/Carpark @ 512 Rooftop – Midnight
3/16 Austin, TX – WNYU @ Baby Blue Recording Studio – 2:10pm
Street Date: June 12, 2012
Formats: CD / LP / Digital
1. Rent Money
3. Tell Her
4. Best Friend
5. Don’t Wait Too Long
6. Wedding Day
8. Find It
9. Do Things
10. Home Groan