Days of Lore

Dungen: Making the old new.

Dungen: Making the old new.

Hey brother, can you spare a dime? I was approached this week on the corner of Second and Main by a gentleman asking if he could borrow a dollar.

“This is going to sound crazy, but I’m a really nice person. Could I just borrow a doll … ”

“Sorry,” I replied.

“But I … ”

“Nope,” I said, and kept walking.

I’m usually not so curt to people who ask for money. The thing is it was probably the fourth or fifth time this guy had approached me for money since I’ve lived in Chico. Each time it’s the same exact story, or a slight variation of it.

Perhaps you’ve seen him, too—a decently dressed, tall, slender, balding man with beady brown eyes and bad teeth with a pleasant personality—giving a sob story about being stranded and needing money for gas.

Business savvy He obviously didn’t remember me from our previous encounter about a month ago. He approached me at around the same place—the same spiel followed.

“This is going to sound crazy, but I’m a really nice person. Could I just borrow a doll … ”

“You know, you’ve tried this on me already … a few times,” I said. “Maybe you should try it in a different town.”

His genial smile disappeared and he bared his yellow choppers as he slung obscenities of the finest quality at me, asking me what right I had telling him to leave town.

I was only trying to help the guy’s business.

“It’s only a suggestion,” I said.

“You’ve used it all up in Chico. People are on to you. You should try it somewhere else,” I continued.

The F-bombs kept-a-flyin’ as I walked away. The nerve. Not only was he lying about needing gas money, but he lied about being a nice person, too.

Vote for Pedro David Bazan is an interesting guy. His performance last week at Subud Hall illustrated that he’s just an average Joe, which is why he’s been one of the few, if not the only, Christian artist to find legitimate crossover appeal.

Sure, others have found success—MxPx, Relient K and even P.O.D.—but they try to hide their religious beliefs behind “keep-your-head-up-life’s-not-so-bad” messages that come off as contrived. It sorta makes me ill … and the music’s horrible.

I’m not a huge fan of Bazan. My first encounter with Pedro the Lion was with the band’s last album, Achilles Heal. And his new solo EP Fewer Moving Parts has some interesting moments, although the music sometimes lacks dynamics.

But Bazan is a great storyteller who writes with a candor that not many other artists can. He sings about murder and sex. He writes songs about the critics who write about him. And instead of trying to hide his Christian beliefs for fear that they will cut into his records sales, he instead questions his religion. And well he should.

What’s old is new again … Swedish musician Gustav Ejstes looks like a throwback to the ’60s, and his band Dungen’s release Ta Det Lugnt (“Take It Easy”) is an intricate, thought-out piece of jazz-infused psychedelic garage rock that, if you didn’t know it, sounds as if it was recorded during the summer of love.

It was actually released in 2004, and Dungen (pronounced DOON-yen) has since put out another album, Stadsvandringar (translation: “City Walks,” originally released in 2002). Ejstes played and recorded Ta Det Lugnt by himself—including drums, guitars, bass, organ, flute and violin. If you don’t speak Swenska, you’re not going to understand a damned thing, but it’s a must listen for its wild breaks of distortion and drums that sound as if Elvin Jones came back from the dead to sit in on the session.