Friends in Smart Places


Joshua Camp and Michael Hearst of One Ring Zero are first-class boyfriend material. They have super-tousleable hair; they dress well but comfortably; they compose for accordion, theremin, banjo, and the unlamented claviola (a Hohner monstrosity that looks like a shark eating a samovar). On a forthcoming record, they back Paul Auster’s 16-year-old daughter, Sophie, singing French poetry translated by her father (the world’s not fair—she has a fantastic voice). And for their current trick, they’ve got Auster, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and other A-listers writing their lyrics. At As Smart as We Are‘s release gig at the Museum of Jewish History in Battery Park City last month, Myla “Bee Season” Goldberg played flute, Darin “Chang & Eng” Strauss sat in on guitar, and Rick Moody did some kinda wack Cecil Taylor impression: the Indie Rock-Bottom Remainders.

Yeah, it’s got NPR written all over it. But a lot of it is really entertaining, like if Emir Kusturica remade The Third Man and asked Leonard Cohen to update the theme music. They’ve got all the sideshows in their circus going at once: For “Radio,” Daniel “Lemony Snicket” Handler’s scatological rant about his dumper, they rock the kit detailed above over a Bonham-esque backbeat; on Jon Ames’s “Story of the Hairy Call,” a narrative of pubescent terror, they’ve got a strummy guitar and a toy piano. And of course the whole time you’re following the words in the fancy booklet.

Right now you’re thinking you should hate them. Let it go. Wrap this record in nice paper and give it as a gift to the Obscure Object of your desire. Maybe some of One Ring Zero’s luck will rub off on you.

One Ring Zero play Prospect Park July 29.