Band of the Day

2011.11.24

Dent May

Dent May creates a kitschy and whimsical world that's pure musical escapism
Oh Paris, you were more than just a friend. Upon you I will depend, I will love you 'til the end.
lyrics from Oh, Paris!

Dent May is a whimsical indie-pop musician from Taylor, Mississippi. After spending three semesters at NYU’s film school, he started gaining interest in the music of Serge Gainsbourg and Lee Hazelwood. In 2002, May formed the quartet Dent May & His Magnificent Ukelele. May's songwriting makes conscious use of 80s casio-kitsch, a ukulele named Jenny, and escapist pop and crooning vocals. Dent is also a part of the Cats Purring arts collective, a power-pop group called The Rockwells, and he dabbles in country and dance music. Dent May was signed to Paws Tracks Records (owned by members of Animal Collective) in 2008. In 2009, Dent's debut LP was released under the title The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukelele. His most recent single, a split 7" called "Fun"/"Wedding Day," was released in September 2011 on Paw Tracks Records.

If the thought of ukulele-driven music brings to mind memories of Tiny Tim's shrill falsetto and maniacal smile, never fear—Dent May is here to save the day! The geek-chic singer and ukulele aficionado, hailing from the tiny town of Taylor, Mississippi (population 300), creates a whimsical and kitschy musical world with his album The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele. And with a title like that, you know exactly what to expect from the get-go. Almost like a 50s suburban housewife trotting around a backyard party, offering platters of tooth-picked hors d'oeuvres to a gaggle of guests, May invites you into his retro universe with the opening salutations of “Welcome”: “Welcome to my record, welcome to my show/Welcome to the party, welcome to my home.” And the rest of the album, which was recorded both in May's home and a double-wide trailer in Mississippi, is equally as quirky and lighthearted—much in the same vein as The Magnetic Fields, Jens Lekman, and Rufus Wainwright. With his trusty (and magnificent) ukulele, named Jenny, at the helm—which his mom taught him how to play when he was 8 years old—May takes on the role of smooth crooner on songs like “Meet Me In The Garden” and the “shoo-be-doo-be-doo”-heavy “Oh Paris!” You can imagine him sauntering around in a satin smoking jacket, a pipe in one hand and a glass of brandy in the other. Although one-too-many glasses of brandy could explain him singing “Lately I've been drinking every night/I'm over being sober, I'm an alcoholic” on the bluntly-titled “I’m An Alcoholic.” While May proves his comedic chops on lines like “He's smoking reefer everyday now/His tastes are ultimately high brow/College Town Boy/get off your ass and do something” (from “College Town Boy”), he also tips his hat to the past by covering The Four Preps' 1957 romantic, pop hit “26 Miles (Santa Catalina).” Dent May's latest release, 2011's "Fun"/"Wedding Day" split 7" single, shows off both of his musical sides. "Wedding Day" is a ukulele-driven ditty gloriously doused in schmaltzy-yet-lovable romantic sentiment. On the flip side (literally), "Fun" is pure synth-pop, well, fun! Dent May's kitschy crooner act may not be everyone's cup of tea, but one thing's for sure—his music is pure musical escapism, and it's nearly impossible to not crack a smile and be swept away.