Where do I begin…when a friend of mine first spun a Danielson record, Alpha, for me back in 1998, I was taken in the first two seconds of hearing the mixture of xylophone, drums, acoustic guitar, synth keys and falsetto voice with layered backing vocals. It was bizarre and somewhat dissonant. A few friends in the room found it offensive. I thought it was perfect. It was DIY art, folk, punk and catchy in a Frank Black (Pixies) meets the Mamas and the Papas kind of way.
Daniel Smith originally started writing and recording songs with his brothers, sisters and friend for a senior thesis at Rutgers University, which has evolved to include international tours, a video documentary, seven full length albums, a handful of singles and his own line of clogs.
Why I love the Danielson Famile
The Danielson Famile combines well thought out visual art with conceptual music and they put on stellar shows. I was lucky enough to catch them in DC and NYC.
Their live shows have been known to include two synchronous drummers, kid instruments, banjos, thumping synth organ, crazy-strummed guitar (as if Daniel is possessed), matching nurse uniforms with their names stitched on, wizard costumes and a nine-foot tall fruit tree. They have also been joined on stage with alumni art rockers Jad Fair and Sufjan Stevens, who use to be their tour mate.
Check out their video for “Did I Step On Your Trumpet”, which was done all in one take, high school play style. In a world full of quick cut editing, they take a “less is more” approach, step back and let you enjoy a well planned and executed performance. Thank you Danielson Famile for keeping the art alive! My challenge to you is to cover Pink Floyd’s album The Wall.