Dusted Reviews

Little Wings / Justin Clifford Rhody - Split LP

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Little Wings / Justin Clifford Rhody

Album: Split LP

Label: Friends and Relatives

Review date: Apr. 4, 2005

Those toiling through the cavernous margins of today’s lo-fi folk surge may have come across some spools of Indiana’s Justin Clifford Rhody. Outside of $1 cassette compilations on his own Friends and Relatives Records (previous Jad Fair and Practical Cockpit discs are in step), Rhody has been logging in miles solo and with Mt. Gigantic, expanding his truth tales and bird-call vocals along the way. On an aesthetically similar route, Little Wings’ Kyle Field has worked out six albums huddled with strains of classic torch styles in five years with K-global status that still returns him to living room jamborees. This split LP, with hand screened (Rhody’s side) and painted (Field’s) covers, nestles deep in the intimate, hot-breath camp both reside. Each divides their sides with songs and questionable skits that run parallel across a crumbly fidelity of smudged melodies.

Me vs. Evil is Rhody’s side, and without looking, it’s easy to mistake the stylus has picked up a millimeter of dust during the first rotation. As home recording goes, it may be cloudy but the warmth is there and the ghostly roll of cassette heads form an almost distant cicada ambience. Emphasis is on Rhody’s upper register vocals and matter-of-fact delivery, hovering on simple strumming for sad-heart songs that side-step cuteness by injecting a trembling instability. On “I Will Break Your Heart” he natters: “I can’t stop to eat, to busy writing letters to her. / I didn’t like the Talking Heads at first. She made me a tape. I really liked it. The Talking Heads weren’t on it,” amongst dropped in screeching and yelps. “Dead Boyfriends” wishes the best to his lady’s pervious beaus and sets Rhody’s warped bent on par with the Fair Bros.

On the flip, Little Wings’ Magic Would songs flow effortlessly no matter how rambling they become. The side is an extension of Field’s recent K album Magic Wand and follows suit with campestral themes and free-verse delivery. His folk attack style seems to contain some flatpicking that adds a raucous jump and motion to his songs. While other albums house a swelling membership, the seven songs here find “Uncle Kyle” alone at the microphone with guitar or keys. Despite a fey radio-style skit, complete with spontaneous commercials and co-anchor banter about man-eating fish, Field’s leading voice and piano bumps the grand Randy Burns-style of understated songsmith that is well versed in past missteps. The words and imagery kicked up by each verse is clearing more ground on each release. “I’m a writer, not a fighter / If I fight it is when I write,” he whispers on the opener “Magic Wood.” That’s word enough to know Little Wings will continue the struggle, even if it’s against the piranhas.

By Eric Weddle

Read More

View all articles by Eric Weddle

Find out more about Friends and Relatives

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.