There are quite a few folk, punk, and blues acts in the independent scene. There aren’t very many bands that combine all three of those influences in a fascinatingly coherent and eclectic way, however, and that’s what The Great Malarkey strives to do. The bizarre London-based outfit is preparing to release their sophomore studio endeavor, an album entitled ‘Doghouse.’ In anticipation of the full release, the band has dropped the first song off the record, ‘Duck n Dive.’
‘Duck n Dive’ may be one of the most surprisingly brilliant songs to come across my desk in months. At times, the song sounds like it’s bleeding out into the street from Preservation Hall in New Orleans. Then, moments later, the tune sounds like a Paul Butterfield song before morphing again into Tom Waits’ ‘Rain Dogs.’ There isn’t a style of Americana-esque music that isn’t melded beautifully into ‘Duck n Dive.’
Jam-packing a song with that much sonic influence could easily go awry, but The Great Malarkey has exceptional chemistry. The production quality of the single is superb. It’s cleanly produced and sounds beautiful, but maintains a very loose atmosphere, as if it was recorded with a handful of well-placed room microphones. The comradery of the performers, which is especially present in the opening of the song, makes it completely and utterly infectious to listen to.
Lyrically, the song is chock-full of blues and folk influence, a rambunctious blend of Chicago and delta blues that’s further layered with several generations of folk music. When the growly male vocalist comes into the song toward the tune’s halfway point, The Great Malarkey harness Tom Waits in his prime, as if ‘Duck n Dive’ is a song off ‘Swordfishtrombones’ or ‘Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards.’
To add a cherry atop the cake, there is a very punk mentality to this performance. It’s complex and layered, but has an undying aura of levity. There isn’t an ounce of pretension in this music, which is a lovely change of pace for a critic like myself that digs into intensely pretentious “folk” acts on a daily basis.
‘Duck n Dive’ is one of the most joyfully fun and lovable singles to come out thus far this year in the indie scene. It should put ‘Doghouse’ near the top of your list of records to check out in the community this year.