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Vanyaland Premiere: The Dazies find inner peace through jangle-pop on debut EP ‘Levon Helm’

Credit: Eric Penna
 

We’re told at a young age to never judge a book by its cover, but the older we get we realize it’s perfectly fine to judge a record by its name and song titles. And so with the Dazies — the friends-and-family solo project of multi-instrumentalist Mikey Holland of Mean Creek, Tulsa, and come this fall, Slowdim — it’s clear what the Levon Helm EP is all about on first glance and listen of tracks titled “I Don’t Mind (Going Nowhere)” and “Nobody Bringing You Down.”

“I started this project to have fun and be reckless and not think too much,” Holland tells Vanyaland. “I realized lately I spend more time thinking about shit that is so far out of my hands and unrelated to music that I forget about the music. The big race to make it to all the notable websites, blogs, etc. etc. — it’s all fine, but personally I just don’t want to think of that anymore. Music is dead, I’m not. I don’t want to waste my time waiting for someone to think what I do is worthy of their allegiance. I know I’m fucking cool and I write great songs and I don’t care who knows or doesn’t because I know.”

Holland’s full-time band, Mean Creek, have been on the cusp of a national breakthrough for a few years now. But here with the Dazies, Holland is making a record on his own terms — and with help from his friends. Levon Helm is all about personal freedom and empowerment, and the manifestation of Holland’s compositions that didn’t fit into recent Mean Creek songwriting and recording sessions. It’s full of jangle-pop traces of Big Star, the Replacements, and Helm’s band, the Band.

 

“The 15-year-old Mikey skipping school listening to mix tapes of 108, Minor Threat, Beastie Boys, Dead Boys, Ramones and Willie Nelson would love this and would be so pumped he even made it,” he says. “So this is for that kid and the kid in me.”

Levon Helm, which is officially out today digitally and on cassette and gets the release party treatment tonight at ZuZu in Cambridge with Dan Webb & the Spiders and Holiday Music, was produced and engineered by Holland’s longtime collaborator, Eric Penna (Ketman, Trabants).

“We recorded it in my living room –big ceilings and wood floor,” Holland adds. “We started with the drums, something I’m really proud of. I had never played drums to any of these songs till we hit record. I had it all in my head no clicks or anything. To be honest I kinda shocked myself, I really wasn’t sure how that would work. It’s a personal proud moment of mine. We did guitars a month later. Every take you hear is the first take. No over thinking — which is kind of The Dazies philosophy.”

 
 

Holland’s former Mean Creek bandmate Erik Wormwood, now of I Am Become Death, played bass (“Sincerely the greatest musician I’ve ever played with,” Holland says) and Slowdim’s Paul Sentz added some extra guitars and backing vocals. The EP was mixed in Penna studio at Howard Hughes Tower in Los Angeles, and mastered by unofficial fifth Mean Creek member Chris McLaughlin at Doom NYC.

Check out the Dazies’ Levon Helm EP below, with release party details after the jump…

Dazies Flyer