D+, On Purpose - 1997-
2007: Hits, Rarities and
Live Cuts [5/27/08] (7.8)
Lunsford's droll vocals are charming, as is the self-
deprecating wit which drives many of his songs.
-- Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
You wouldn't expect slick from bass player Karl Blau, guitar-
ist Bret Lunsford (Beat Happening), and drummer Phil Elver-
um (Microphones, Mount Eerie), and this D+ collection isn't
slick, but who wants that anyway? These 15 tracks may qualify
as "shambling"—an irresistibly over-used term when it comes
to indie rock—but there's enough charm, sincerity, and insight
throughout On Purpose to smooth over the rough patches,
like the seven-inch version of "Heatherwood," which features
one of Mr. Lunsford's more, well, shambling vocals.
For the most part, this Anacortes, WA trio plies a lo-fi approach
to garage-pop. Though the members of Olympia's Beat Happening used to switch instruments, the D+ players stick to their chosen roles. In theory. As Lunsford explains via email, "I’m pretty limited to clunky guitar and minimal percussion. Phil and Karl are extremely multi-in-
strumental. We often go into the studio/living room with lyrics to a new song, and then an hour later we are recording something. Anything might happen. I’ve learned that if I don’t want a kazoo on a song, I’d better hide it from Karl."
Highlights include "Mistake" ("My TV has more channels than
I need / my guitar has fewer string by far"), the fuzzy-buzzy "Jaywalker," the piano and harmonica-infused "We Could Do Anything," and the enchanting "Book." About Lunsford's songwriting, Elverum praises "the quadruple meanings in the words. He builds castles with undiscovered tunnels in them."
D+, the inaugural band to appear on Lunsford's own Knw-Yr-
Own imprint, has been recording for over a decade now, so it
only makes sense to revive the label with an archival release
from their first act (D+ has released five full-lengths alto-
gether). Lunsford and Co. will be issuing On Purpose in a
limited edition of 700 hand-screened and numbered CDs.
Endnote: Images from Knw-Yr-Own. My profile of Luns-
ford appears in the June issue of Sound. Click here for a re-
view of Microphones' 2002 Mount Eerie and here for Mount Eerie's Black Wooden Ceiling Opening, also arriving on 5/27.