Brian Kelly is an Irishman who was living in South Korea when he decided to put together a musical project inspired by the scrappy-sounding likes of the Lucksmiths from Australia, the Clean from New Zealand, and the Swell Maps from England. After a couple of self-released CDs, he got signed to a small label in Chicago and began touring Europe and North America. But don’t let the globe-trotting fool you into thinking Kelly’s music will be sophisticated, professional, or polished. So Cow, as his project is named, is about as ramshackle as music gets in this digital age. And that’s precisely what makes it so much fun.

If Kelly had a big budget and studio hotshots backing him up, he could create some great music. But if that happened, he couldn’t get away with singing “To-Do List,” in which he rhymes “I’ve yet to interfere with mountain goats” with “I’ve yet to tell you, you’re the one I love the most.” No, the only way to get away with lines like that is to record them in your friend’s basement while everyone is drunk. This technique is, of course, unpredictable, but when it works, it really works.

Kelly’s song “Greetings” is one of those moments where a real gem emerges from the chaos. Amid random musings about Buddhism and open relationships, Kelly sings, “Oh, life’s been just one nonevent, and every day’s an increment, but you restore my sanity, so won’t you come and sit with me now?” The whole song’s over in less than two minutes but will be stuck in your head for days.

SO COW: Bar Pink, Friday, March 12, 10 p.m. 619-564-7194. $5.

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SDaniels March 16, 2010 @ 10:33 p.m.

Nice, Crain, --but why don't you critique the musicianship more specifically--as your reader, I am left musing as to whether or not this guy uses computers, ambient recordings, or pots and pans to create his sound. No doubt partially my bad, since I am ignorant of the Lucksmiths from Australia, the Clean from New Zealand, and the Swell Maps from England; however, critique of what Kelly does with similar instruments, time signatures, lack or presence of melody or tonality, etc. etc. etc., would be helpful. I like your style, though--why I'm making these humble suggestions ;)


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