Jeremy and the Harlequins

“Cam Girl” – Jeremy and the Harlequins

Speaking of old-school, take a listen to this one, which goes all Buddy Holly on us before we can figure out what year we’re actually in. And yes, re-imagining pre-Beatles rock’n’roll with 21st-century lyrical content is a something of a gimmick, but it should be noted that rock’n’roll history is chock full of gimmicks, some of which end up succeeding rather nicely, thank you. In the end, it comes down to two things: 1) is the song there?; and 2) is the song there?

I think the song is here. Nothing happening on “Cam Girl” is rocket science, given how gleefully the song borrows from its antecedents (note the Roy Orbison bass line, as one clear example, the Presley lyrical reference as another), but the whole somehow rises resiliently above the sum of its parts. For as it turns out, the conceit is a powerful one; just hearing these words set to this music is a game-changer:

Tell me, girl, your name
Tell me you’re eighteen
Your profile came up on my MacBook screen

There is weight in this unexpected synthesis, particularly as Jeremy Fury and bandmates have not only ingested the sound and feel of late ’50s/early ’60s rock’n’roll but bring it back to us on real instruments (a theme this week, it seems), via analog recording. (If you don’t think this makes a difference you may not be listening that closely.) I find what this band is up to particularly compelling at a cultural moment when futurists are holding sway with the most small-minded of visions, by all appearances believing that present-day technology gives us license to trample on centuries of established human values and needs. The rather homely act of merging old-time rock with Net-gen subject matter strikes me as a subtle yet profound way of affirming the interconnection of generations. As Fury himself has written, in apparent response to reactions to his band’s music: “Stealing? No. Preserving the past for the sake of the future? Yes.” There: that’s exactly what seems to be missing from our collective, heedless hurling forward into the technological future: the idea that the past must itself be a part of the future too, that the future in fact is impoverished without it.

“Cam Girl” is a song from the first Jeremy and the Harlequins release, a self-titled EP that came out last month.