It Was a Dismal and Beautiful Time

Denali (Jade Tree)

By David Lilly

"How many Frenchmen can't be wrong?" the late Grouch Marx asked well before he was late. Denali, a band hailing from Richmond, Va., and one I'm sure you'll really, really want to know more about after reading this, has not exactly taken it upon themselves to answer that. They do, however, begin this eponymous debut disc with a song entitled, "French Mistake."

After reading the lyrics I am not sure what the song is about, but if you're hankering for some sonically induced melancholy, you've come to the right place. Actually, "French Mistake" is passionately sullen and if you are like me, then you don't understand why you find this kind of musical misery so appealing. I definitely recommend this stuff and it's about as cheerful and uplifting as that Doors song called "The End"; hence a dash or two of levity included here. You know, like the Led Zep song, "When the Levity Breaks"?

"You File" is next and should seriously be considered for the name of some powerfully exotic perfume, as it is full of passion, melancholy and far tastier hooks than you'll find at your local bait shop. "Everybody Knows" continues this circus of sadness and passion, sounding like the soundtrack for someone suddenly lost and wandering through the drizzling darkness. This overcast party moves on with "Prozac" and its opening lines, "left alone/to hang on your last words," which fits not only that gloomy song but pretty well sums up the feeling of the entire disc. Listening to most of this is like a musical version of gazing at Markie Post with a terminal illness: simultaneously gorgeous and deeply sad. I can't help but wonder if these musicians are big fans of Mozart's nocturnes.

I urge you to give Denali, including the lovely and haunting voice of Maura Davis, at least an hour of your time. Further details (including the source of the name "Denali," which is quite appropriate) are available at