Those travelling via Grizzly Bear or Department of Eagles’ more critically acclaimed second album In Ear Park may experience some culture shock on first listening to The Cold Nose. Whereas the former works deal in musky indie-rock majesties, Dan Rossen’s earlier output with long-time buddy Fred Nicolaus takes itself less seriously, wears a novelty hat. Their debut is equivalent to that funny weird kid, who turns out to be a riot at parties.
No surprise then that these tracks, first released in 2005, have been weirding along in some form or other since Rossen and Nicolaus were in high school. From the off there’s a keen sense of interplay between split personalities: in ‘On Glaze’, Rossen’s signature kindling guitar coaxes up a flume of hip-hop beats and throaty strings. The cool melancholic coils of ‘Sailing by Night’ grow fervid with chopped/screwed drums, kazoos and synth organs, and start to glow. Hotter, always hotter, and louder: DoE cram classical, urban and field samples into a microwave and watch for fireworks. And let us be the first to say: ooooh! And furthermore, aaaah! The results are stunning, and absolutely merit a reissue a mere six years later – you know, just in case you’d forgotten what a bad-ass nugget of experimental brilliance this album is.
It’s got everything! That angular-jangular kind of riffage on ‘Romo-Goth’ that made everyone go mad for the Strokes; the drunken Four Tet vibes of ‘Origin of Love’; and the surly singalong of ‘Family Romance’. Most of all, though, it has ‘Forty Dollar Rug’, which, trust me sirs, is an indispensable treasure to any collector of the strange. Notice, ladies and gentlemen, the exquisite fake-English glottal stops of this 21st century rap, its embarrassingly danceable backtrack and the simple but compelling refrain: “Forty dollar rug/Twenty dollar lamp/Playstation 2/Tony Hawk 4!”.
This release also comes outfitted with six bonus tracks including giddy, tactile remixes by Tunng and Daedalus, the soft and deep demo of ‘Ghost in Summer Clothes’ and a few previously-unreleased meanderings which are interesting, if not exactly indispensable. The vital thing is to cherish The Cold Nose as a souvenir along the artistic journey; to appreciate a band in oddness and opulence just as in sickness and in health. That’s not the only way to love a band, but there’s value in that kind of intimacy. Just knowing a band exists that could make both ‘Forty Dollar Rug’ and ‘No One Does It Like You’? Hot dog, that’s precious knowledge indeed.