Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad: Eli Driftwood ‘One Of These Days’

Eli Driftwood

Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad is a column which sees a panel of writers for The Corner review a range of local singles and grade them out of 10. Check out the song below, read through their opinions and let us know in the comments section your own thoughts and what you’d like to see reviewed next time around.

[Bandcamp]

[Grade: 7.7]

Stephen Clover: I admire the shambolic rendition of the slightly less-shambolic arrangement and find it heartwarming that the usual invasive earnestness, the blight crippling the folkie-country industry is — at least on the surface — not to be seen. (I probably need to set up some more traps though, around the original contamination site.) “I want back from what the robbers have taken / but all they have left is an icy-blue shivering phantom” is potentially the best couplet in pop that I can recall in some time. Shame that the digital piano comping in the last few measures looms out of nowhere and somewhat ruins the authentic mood. [6] but I wouldn’t have it in my house, y’dig.

Nick Raven: I saw these guys open for Jake Bugg a couple of weeks ago and I was impressed. Cool old-school wireless sounding twang. They seemed to have a bit more grit live, which is absent on this recording. I really appreciate the raw sound and basic instrumentation. It’s a true representation of a songwriters ability when a song is so stripped back yet still unique and interesting. [7]

Gavin Coughlan: I never heard of Elliot Brown, or Eli Driftwood for that matter, before listening to this song. A few hours later I have listened to everything I can find. He is a folk musician under one name, and a slightly less folk-y musician under the Eli Driftwood moniker.

I instantly loved the slightly shambolic, vaguely rambling nature of this track. The percussion sounds lazy and haphazard, but perfectly sits behind the lilting melodies. Its all very lo-fi, but it absolutely should be, I think a glossy production would detract from the charm of the track. I see he supported Jake Bugg in Auckland recently, I hope that exposure turned a few more people on to his music, as his offbeat version of country and folk deserves to be heard. [9]

Eden Bradfield: Surprisingly lovely tune with hints of doo-wop by way of The Shaggs and vocal harmonies that don’t make me want to shake my dainty fists at Portland for the glut of twee-folk that seems to emanate from there. This is low-key, warmly-recorded meandering without pretense. Small dollops of country, too (I read Driftwood is soon relocating to Texas, so I doubt NZ will get to know him too well), but country in the lilting murder-ballad vein of Carter Family or Dick Justice (before country music was called country music). Bonus points for the chord organ. [8]

Chloe Cairncross: This track seamlessly defies any attempt at being reduced, or pigeon-holed, in to a genre. Its cart-horse plod woos us in to thinking that we are about to listen to a solid old country tune but then doo-wop vocals sound a discord, albeit an interesting and bright one. What I found particularly interesting was that this lack of demarcation between genres made the track sound so much more universal. The distinct twang of country might make us think of American musicians; bubbly acoustics would sound like a generic NZ On Air track. As it is, Driftwood is as driftwood does – a musician set loose from classification. A neat little track to open up new niches in music. [8]

Luke Jacobs: I have a feeling this will be a divisive piece of music for some. It moves and feels like a wet blanket at times, the lyrics ramble on and it all sounds a little like it’s going to fall out of sync with itself. But none of that turns me off, it actually makes me like it more. It makes it charming and I find it endearing. For every minute where it sounds like it’s dripping with country twang there is a rough as sandpaper lick on the ears.

Of course it would be untrue to say there is nothing else like it on the New Zealand music scene, because there is. But ‘One Of These Days’ has strong legs to make it stand out a little bit. The layers of sound reminds me of The Sproutts, a band which also had that shambling loose style. The deciding factor however is that ‘One Of These Days’ has a slick sense of production that other bands on the scene don’t have. The live sound of the band would be great to experience and I get the feeling that the faults, strengths and charms would be make all the facets of the band that I like come into the fore in a way I could not ignore. [8]

3 Comments

  1. Matt Plummer says:

    This is indeed pleasing to the ears, but a little surprised it registered so high on the GSG counter despite its many charms!

  2. Washeduprockstar says:

    I wonder whether the lack of timing in the handclaps this song is intentional or due to a failure of musicianship. The song might have sounded relevant if it was released in the 1880s, but to me it’s just another symptom of Mumford and Sons/The Fleet Foxes making it big. The narrator wants back something “the robbers have taken”, so definitely very representative of modern kiwi life- where bandits roam the woods holding up horse carts, and our houses are plundered by ruffians and loons daily. But of course it’s going to get high marks on gsg/bsb because it has a low-fi (read badly recorded) piano melody.

    I guess it is quite catchy. Probably something to listen to by yourself while your taking a bus back to your quaint hometown after many years experiencing modern life and working in an office and cutting off ties with your family and no longer texting your mum back, until eventually it all gets to you and you realise there’s been something missing over the last few years and so you grudgingly go onto nakedbus.co.nz and buy a ticket back home and slowly walk on the bus and take a seat. Then as the trees fly past you hear Eli Driftwood sing about Lily’s and shit and you realise how much times have changed and that family is important to you and the country is beautiful and you end up working at Pa’s old farm and reconnect with your roots.

  3. Lenny says:

    shambolic

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