Pop & Hiss

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In which we attempt to write about Alexi Murdoch and 'Away We Go' without using the words 'hipster,' 'precious' or a 'Staggering Genius' pun

March 27, 2009 |  1:13 pm

Were you one of those twenty- or thirtysomethings who fell hard for the Shins while Zach Braff pondered the many possible directions of his future on an airport escalator in "Garden State"? Did you grow up, get hitched and have children but never quite lose your appetite for an airport-people-mover metaphor and lovelorn indie folk? Then you, good sir or madam, should meet singer-songwriter Alexi Murdoch, the driving voice behind the soundtrack of "Away We Go," a film where John Krasinski grows a beard, knocks up his adorable lady, Maya Rudolph, after which they spend much time in poetic transit.

It's based on a collaborative script by author Dave Eggers and wife Vendela Vida and directed by Sam Mendes, which means your opinion of it is probably preordained one way or another. We'll spare you the mountain of white-people's-heads-exploding jokes to be made here. But our question is: Given possibly the most chip-shot platform ever to launch his profile among tender-hearted hipste -- ah ha, caught ourselves -- does Murdoch have the goods? After the jump, our prognosticating awaits.

When you pull up the "Music" section of Murdoch's site, there's a quote from KCRW's Nic Harcourt proclaiming, "I've been waiting two years for this album." That's about as telling a pull-quote as you'll ever get, as Murdoch's "Time Without Consequence" is almost laser-cut to the specifications of Harcourt's notorious tastes. There's the kind of acrobatic down-tuned fingerpicking that always gets compared to Nick Drake, and Murdoch's deep voice has an almost-exotic rasp that will move some serious turntable sales in college towns.

"All My Days" is in the trailer for "Away We Go," and will probably be the hit of sorts -- its walk-down bassline is a trick that never gets old in montage sequences, but Murdoch livens it up some some interesting steel-guitar flits and rumbling strings. "Love You More" is a more brainy and ambient take on John Mayer-y makeout rock, but "12" quickly corrects with some Radiohead-worthy noodling effects.

In short, if Damien Rice and the collective cast of the Hotel Cafe Tour toured via the "Darjeeling Limited," you'd arrive at much the same place as Murdoch. We have every confidence that if there is any shred of a monoculture left among ennui-stricken post-post-grads, then the combined efforts of Eggers, Vida, Mendes, Krasinski and Rudolph will capture it. Murdoch's already placed a tune in "Gone Baby Gone" and "House," and after this effort we should expect him behind many more people-mover tracking shots to come.

-- August Brown