Is there a harder-working woman is music than Kimya Dawson? If you are unfamiliar with her name, you might know it better as one half of The Moldy Peaches – along with my boyfriend Adam Green – whose music was featured prominently in the Oscar-nominated hipster comedy ‘Juno’. (Their song ‘Anyone Else But You’ defined that movie and it’s soundtrack). Se released two albums and a single as a member of the Moldy Peaches. She also an album with Antsy Pants and one with The Bundles. Not to mention her seven lo-fi self-released solo records. All of these have been released since 2002. Plus there were several homemade CDRs before that. In addition to her involvement with 30 songs/30 days, a benefit for”Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”. Plus she has also collaborated with such artists as Third Eye Blind, Regina Spektor, They Might Be Giants, The Mountain Goats, among others. Her latest project teams her with rapper Aesop Rock, who is no slouch either.
In addition to his solo material, Aesop Rock was front and centre of the groups The Weathermen, Hail Mary Mallon, and, along with Cage, was one-half of Two of Every Animal. He has been associated with countless others. Like many hip hop and underground artists, he is also a producer. He comes together with Dawson in an unorthodox pairing of sheer musical genius under the moniker The Uncluded.
The result is Hokey Fright and it is my favourite new release of the year so far. It combines Dawson’s ironic sense of humour and silliness with Aesop Rock’s darkly comic, abstract and, at times, violent yet often incoherent lyrics. While an anti-folk/hip-hop recording may seem scattered and unmeshed, that is right within Dawson’s – and Aesop Rock’s wheelhouse. She is ever herself and pairs nicely with Aesop Rock who reminds me of Brother Ali crossed with Zach Galifianakis. They both have very unique voices and vocal tonalities and at times, often straddle the boundaries between singing and speaking. It is quite a remarkable piece of work, especially given it’s perceived looseness and lack of cohesion.
For me, Dawson’s personality and what her music is really all about, manifests itself in a 38 second song entitled “Superheroes”. Her and Aesop Rock go back and forth spewing different types of foods, screaming ‘sandwiches’ in unison at the very end. That, in a nutshell, is the epitome of Kimya Dawson and her writing. I have no idea if she actually enjoys any kind of sandwich but I’ll bet she would make a good joke writer. (Perhaps NBC should hire her). The second track off the album – Delicate Cycle – compounds both their voices at the same time and really shows off how the sound together.
Like much of Kimya’s work, even her name is ironic. Kimya means ‘silent’ in Swahili and Dawson is anything but. ‘Hokey Fright’ was released on May 7th, 2013, and everyone needs to run the closet music—– er—– find a digital download (or better yet, if anyone can find a vinyl copy, we will all be in your debt) and listen to the album the whole way through. It will make you feel lighrhearted and a little less stressed. Amazing.
RIYL: The Moldy Peaches, Adam Green, Antsy Pants, The Weathermen, Hail Mary Mallon, Two of Every Animal.