Sunday, May 1, 2011

More Sad Hits review

As promised, I will start publishing my reviews of past Damon & Naomi records, in the hope to help the band draw in some new fans!

With the release of the new Damon & Naomi album (and their seventh full-length release) "False Beats and True Hearts" set for release in just a few weeks, I'd like to start by going back to their debut offering "More Sad Hits"....Thanks for reading!

Damon and Naomi- More Sad Hits (1992)
Album Review by Nat Bourgon
May 1st, 2011

It would be reasonable, given its title, to assume that More Sad Hits, the 1992 debut offering from Damon & Naomi, is a real downer of a record. Yet, while there are moments that are drenched in sorrow, to label the record a funeral to the duo’s previous band Galaxy 500 would be to ignore the record’s positive spirit and energy. There is as much of a commitment to forward motion, and healing here, as there is a coming-to-terms with past uneasiness, pain, and tragedy. Krukowski and Yang are no strangers the dire and the bleak (the breakdown of Galaxy 500), but in spite of that, they thankfully manage to inject a dose optimism into the proceedings. The record is very philosophically engaging, as there is an ongoing dedication to showing both sides of the coin. For every moment of sadness, there is a moment of pure joy waiting in the wings.

More Sad Hits is a versatile record that is crawling with life; not a falsely all-rosy view of life, but rather an unfiltered, highly personal view of life that includes room for both mourning and celebration. This duality comes to the forefront on album highlight “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington”.  For the song’s first two minutes, Damon Krukowski’s dreamy, soulful vocals lead the listener through a sleepy, laid back, dream-like sequence. Every past indicator suggests that the dreamy track is used as a reprieve of sorts from the surrounding tracks’ more fragile, and emotionally-on-edge mood. Yet, what sets Damon & Naomi’s music apart from the pack is that said assumption would be deeply flawed. The ferocious, squeeling guitars that dominate the song’s second half unleash a storm so powerful that it rudely, without warning, awakens us from the lazy, hazy dream, and exclaims loud and clear not only that the fantasy trip is over, but also that what Damon & Naomi do is far more complex and unique than our first impression might lead us to believe. The band’s decision to rip Krukowki’s hearty vocals away from the listener, as the song nears it rambunctious conclusion is strangely satisfying, as it gives the conclusion an eerie and foreboding layer. It is as if Krukowski and Yang want to offer a warning: Don’t get too comfortable. Change is inevitable, especially when you least expect it.

The record’s continual insistence on open-mindedness and the duality of life blossoms once again on “Information Age”, a Damon & Naomi classic. Clocking in at just under three minutes, the tune finds the band seemingly firing on all cylinders. “Information Age” finds Krukowski and Yang’s voices intertwined in blessed harmony, aided by some gorgeous production from Kramer, and some heartwrenching lyrics like “you and me/our eyes will never meet again/we’re not the same”, which sounds like words and emotions that could have been felt by the duo in the aftermath of the demise of Galaxy 500. When Yang conjures up visions of “computers crashing all around us’, she only provides a small hint at the tune’s surprising grand finale; a wall of unsettling sounds that emerge as an expression of sensory overload. Disclaimer: it is within the realm of probability that the song’s ending will sound like a bunch of computers experiencing mayday. A critic might argue that this sensory overload is annoying, and that it ventures into the camp of an excessive un-necessity. Yet, this critic would be missing the whole point: Damon & Naomi are much more interesting as a result of their ongoing determination to subvert expectations of their listeners, and forge ahead with the unexpected. The sensory overload is better thought of as a motif, illustrating the highs and lows of communication in relationships. “Information Age” is Damon & Naomi’s way of acknowledging that human to human communication is tricky business; that communication can run into barriers and crash at any time just like computers. That More Sad Hits contains moments that follow which reveal and showcase the aftermath of a communication breakdown, only makes the concept, appeal and allure of the record as a whole, that much more exciting.

More Sad Hits is the first full length withYang and Krukowski handling all the lead vocals solely between the two of them, and throughout the record, any vocal growing pains are successfully offset by the duo’s infectious energy in their instrumentation and songwriting. The duo’s vocals are often treated as just another instrument to enhance their already-solid songs – it is not necessary for their vocals to always be put up front in the mix. The vocals tend to act as a counterpart to the instrumentation – when the music is more upbeat and pulsing, the vocals tend to be darker and more maudlin in tone and feel. Although there are exceptions on the disc, songs where Yang takes the lead vocal (such as Laika, and Astrafiammante) tend to be more melancholic in nature, while the music/vocals on Krukowski-fronted tunes (especially Boston's Daily Temperature and Once More) are generally a bit more livelier and chipper.

Mid-album centerpiece Astrafiammante brings Naomi Yang’s breathy, delicate vocals to the forefront, combined with some nice gentle, folky acoustic guitar strumming from Krukowski. In her vocal delivery on Astrafiammante, Yang’s musings sound terrified here, as if she got a grasp on her true feelings, but appears scared of forging ahead to communicate her feelings, even as she knows how worthwhile it is to do so. Fear, anxiety and love are all evident in Yang’s voice, when she sings the lyrics “are you near me/is the earth that small/but you keep on driving/and stay where you are”. Lyrically, Astrofiammante nicely emphasizes our complex relationship with communication. Coming to terms with our own feelings is tough enough; to express these important feelings out loud to another human being is even tougher. Once these feelings are verbalized, they are not only out there, but they become much more real. When a feeling becomes much more real, we then must deal with the impending implications and consequences that arise as a result of those feelings. In Astrafiammante, Yang whips up a stew of communication, and is unafraid to showcase its ingredients: fear, anxiety, tension and confusion on the one side, but also self-worth, love, understanding, respect and reward on the other.

Lyrically, Krukowski and Yang have an unwavering dedication to honesty about their past, present and future, which increases the intimacy of the record, and highlights the significance and validity of the relationship between love and honesty. More Sad Hits is not a record singularly oncerned with mourning about the past; it is also interested in yearning for a better tomorrow. By the end of the last song, listeners are most likely to hold onto, and remember the radiant hope in the album’s closer “This Changing World”. Yang offers that “my love stays the same forever/in this world/this changing world”. The world has changed a lot in the 19 years since the album’s 1992 release. Yet, in More Sad Hits Damon & Naomi have crafted a work of art that is highly personal, honest, and original, and one that holds up quite well. This masterful, enthralling work can speak to your soul, mind and heart if you are willing to spend some time with it. More Sad Hits is more than an album---it is a philosophical attitude that will challenge and provoke the listener, and a musical journey that is beautiful and surprising…the only thing that it is steady at is its ability to captivate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Damon & Naomi album!

Damon & Naomi's 7th studio album, "False Beats and True Hearts" will be released on their own 20/20/20 label on May 9th (in the UK) and May 17th (in the US!) The tracklisting is as follows:

False Beats and True Hearts:

1) Walking Backwards
2) How Do I Say Goodbye
3) Shadow Boxing
4) Ophelia
5) Nettles and Ivy
6) What She Brings
7) Embers
8) And There You Are
9) Helsinki

The band has made the first track "Walking Backwards available as a free mp3 download on their website---

If you go to you can also hear the tracks "And There You Are" and "Shadow Boxing" !

I'd love to hear what everybody thinks about these songs! I think these tracks prove to be a great starting place for people who want to get into Damon & Naomi!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome to The Wondrous World of Damon & Naomi

It was early July 2010...with my 22nd birthday looming closer, my family began approaching me about gift ideas. I didn't want new jeans...and I didn't really need a new basketball! What I most wanted was enough iTunes gift card moola to purchase the entire 6 album discography of  Damon & Naomi.

Damon & Naomi is a band that I had heard a bit about, and I had been meaning to check them out for the longest time:) The band is essentially a duo, comprised of Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang. Since 2000, Michio Kurihara, the guitarist of Japanese band Ghost, has made contributed to each Damon & Naomi album, and he is considered an important part of the band. Before my birthday, I started researching them and learning more...I read some of their album reviews, and listened to a few random songs. "Information Age" in particular, really captured my attention. After spending some time with that one song, I knew I had come across a special band, and that I had to hear more! When I unwraped the faithful iTunes money on my birthday, I instantly purchased their entire career discography on an impulse (and a bit of research!), and knew that I wouldn't be disappointed! I wasn't:) In fact, little did I know on that July 24th afternoon, but I had just begun my journey with one of my favourite bands of all time!

4 months later, I have now spent time with and absorbed all 6 Damon & Naomi albums, and have fallen in love with each of them for different reasons......I love debut "More Sad Hits" for its energy and spirit, sophomore album "The Wondrous World of Damon and Naomi" for its career high songwriting and folky overtones, 1998's "Playback Singers" for its intimacy and loose feel, "With Ghost" for its universality, and its ability to be a strong entrance point to the band's music.........2005's "The Earth Is Blue" remains my favourite Damon & Naomi album, because of its down-to-earth character, and its tranquility and peacefulness, and I have a specal place in my heart for 2007's "Within These Walls" for its meaningful, divine lyricism, and its directness-longevity dualistic nature....."Walls" is an album that really hits you instantly, and then continues to reveal itself in new ways with each future listen.

Damon & Naomi make music that is simultaneously captivating, innovative, affecting, experimental, accessible, emotional and creative. Each Damon & Naomi album manages to have its own unique characteristics, style, and persona, all the while sharing that "something-something  factor that makes each record identifiable as a Damon & Naomi album. Damon & Naomi have ultimately created a body of work that transcends genre. So many bands now-a-days, are often described and categorized as "this band" or "this artist" meets "this band" or "this artist"...Damon & Naomi can't be categorized or described in this way, because they only sound like themselves (and not like any other!) :)

The time has come to introduce you to Damon & Naomi's music...Here's a link to a free mp3 the band chose to share from Damon and Naomi's official website: the song is called "The Mirror Phase" and it leads off the band's 2000 album "With Ghost:

The Mirror Phase (free mp3 download):
(Right Click---Save Target As)
(from ---official Damon & Naomi website)

Let me know below, in the comment section, thoughts on this gorgeous, sublime track!! So, what are my plans with this space? And what are my goals here?

I want this blog to serve as a place where people can turn to, for updates about what's going on with the band. I also want to publish my own personal reviews of Damon & Naomi albums. Even more importantly, I want to create a an online community where current Damon & Naomi listeners can come together and bask in their love for the band! I would love to have some good Damon & Naomi discussions, about favourite albums, songs, and what their music means to others! With a new Damon & Naomi record currently in the works, and on track to be released in 2011, I also want to help Damon & Naomi reach new listeners:) I LOVE that Damon & Naomi make music first and foremost for their own creative expression (that's the sign of a true artist/musician). I've spoken with various musicians who I love, and I have been told that the best thing a fan can do for a band/musician and he or she loves, is to give other people a chance to fall in "like" or "love" with them too! That's a big part of what I want to accomplish with "The Wondrous World of Damon & Naomi" blog:)

Damon & Naomi deserve to be heard, and with this blog, I want them to know that there are people out there that love their music, and appreciate their uniqueness, and musical artistic expression!!

Thanks for reading! Music is a universal language, and one that brings people together! More to come soon!