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Extra Glenns

You probably don't know the Extra Glenns, but you may be familiar with their constituent parts, of which there are two. Glenn B is better known as Franklin Bruno, the solo artist who once fronted Nothing Painted Blue, not to mention philosophy professor and erstwhile music critic. Glenn D is John Darnielle, the razor-sharp intellect behind the steadfastly lo-fi and frighteningly prolific group The Mountain Goats. The duo first came together in the early '90s, when both were attending college in the Inland Empire enclave of Claremont, California, during which time the Extra Glenns recorded a couple of cassettes and seven-inches, before moving on to their better-known projects.

Well, Absolutely Kosher's fearless leader Cory Brown was one who remembered the halcyon days of The Extra Glenns, so at the 2000 Noise Pop festival in San Francisco, he invited Darnielle and Bruno to play a show in his living room; much to everyone's surprised, more than 200 people showed up, drawn from all four corners of the country by the promise of an Extra Glenns reunion. Inspired by the response and the fun of playing together again, the two musicians got together and recorded a new album, Martial Arts Weekend, in John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone studio.

Like both men's other work, The Extra Glenns impress first and foremost with their literate, canny songwriting. The songs possess the homespun, in-your-ear quality of classic simple folk; it's these musicians' oodles of personality and charming forthrightness that makes the music interesting and memorable. The record ranges in tone from twangy alt-country to dusty folk to upbeat pop, all the while maintaining an agreeable mix of rural languor and arresting intelligence.