The musical mysticism of Little War Twins

Folk explosion
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  July 24, 2012

MOUNTAIN TALES “Everybody’s got monsters,” says Patrick McConnell (center). “We just try to give
people enough energy to feel empowered to slay those monsters.””

Now that the phrase “folk” has been shopworn to shit by rock writers and publicists — slapped onto the barely related styles of so many myriad almost-rustics that saying a band plays “folk” is about as useful as saying they play “punk”— let’s just stop talking about “folk.” That is, let’s stop talking about traditional, homespun, populist balladry. Instead, let’s discuss “folk” as in “folklore,” as in “legends,” as in all the epic narratives scorched into our individual and collective consciousness.

At a picnic table situated between a playground and a church in Roxbury, four-fifths of Little War Twins — recovering “folk renegade mystics” in search of a new catchy-sounding sub-genre to inhabit — snack on a vegan-friendly salad-type concoction with a hearty base of chickpeas and a special ingredient of chia seeds. Thought to maximize stamina and shrink appetite to its nadir, chia seeds — legend has it — were ingested by Aztec warriors before extended periods of wanton mayhem, once upon a time.

At the Middle East in Cambridge this Friday, Little War Twins plan to drop a new version of their single, “Shake It Bali Hai,” possibly the closest thing they play to a jangly indie-pop tune. After we get all gakked out on chia seeds, singer Gaetana Brown tells me about how Paula Gunn Allen’s Grandmothers of the Light, an anthology of Native American “goddess stories,” provided the impetus for the band’s name. “There’re these two mountains in Arizona that are right next to each other,” she begins. “These mountains are called either the Monster Slayer Twins or the Little War Twins. The story is that Spider Mother, the Great Creator, birthed White Shell Woman, who I identify with a lot, and she birthed these Little War Twins. Their father is the Sun, and they slay all these monsters in the way of people flourishing on the earth.”

Adds moonstruck drum-kit-adept Patrick McConnell: “Everybody’s got monsters, or whatever you call them. We just try to give people enough energy to feel empowered to slay those monsters. This one group of girls talked to Gaetana after we played this show in Connecticut. They said, ‘Since bands like you guys have been coming to town, it’s really brought a lot of light to what’s otherwise a pretty dark place.’ When she told me that, I was leveled, because that’s the purpose of this band.”

Talk like that can resonate as quite starry-eyed. It could, maybe, even imply that co-founders Brown and McConnell harbor minor-league messiah complexes. (Not in the scary way — in the fun way!) Weeks later, when they headlined an UNregular Radio-hosted show, I realized that they need to be able to talk like that to play music like they do.

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: Chris North connects life's road maps, Adrian Soiza and Dani Umpi | Dramatica, Phosphorescent | To Willie, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Folk Music, music features
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
    Whereas the monsters and ghosts of NIN songs can scream in your face and rip you to bits with their fangs, Welcome Oblivion tracks like techno-folk haunter "Ice Age" and the doom-pop jaunt "How Long?" make uncredited cameo appearances in your nightmares until you go insane and eat your own hands.
  •   JOHNNY MARR | THE MESSENGER  |  February 25, 2013
    Going solo is rarely a good decision. For every exception to the rule of who flourishes after unburdening themselves of the half-talents that have been holding them back — Justin Timberlake, for one — there are dozens of embarrassing Dee Dee Ramone rap albums that exist because Joey and Johnny Ramone weren't around to kibosh a terrible idea.
  •   WHAT'S F'N NEXT? BUKE AND GASE  |  January 29, 2013
    Almost every person I've told about Buke and Gase assumes that they'll hate this band, which isn't their fault.
  •   BLEEDING RAINBOW | YEAH RIGHT  |  January 23, 2013
    The only defect of the sort-of-but-not-really debut from Bleeding Rainbow (no longer called Reading Rainbow, possibly due to litigious ire festering under LeVar Burton's genial television persona) is that the Philly foursome merely hop off the launching point forged by Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and a handful of others from the oft-exalted grunge era.
    We hear you just moved to "the Bean", and you're thinking about starting a real life rock-'n-roll band! Here's a bunch of bullshit you should know about.

 See all articles by: BARRY THOMPSON