Now/It's: Olden Yolk at The High Watt

For as long as I can remember, a personal pastime of mine has been pairing artists and their songs with the hypothetical films from famous auteurs of best fit. It makes for a fantastic time waster, and has the capability of making one feel far more creative than they actually might be, but that’s beside the point. Through continued practice of the said time waster, I’ve found myself becoming more and more cognizant of just how well certain bands and artists would fit with various filmmakers. In other instances, there are artists who seem unabashedly perfect for some sort of cinematic set-up, but the auteur of best fit seems to escape. Those are the most fun versions of the “match-this-band-with-an-auteur” game. And such was the case with Olden Yolk, whose Nashville stop provided more than just general show going entertainment.

Olden Yolk’s music stands in an intriguing arena in terms of the “match-this-band-with-an-auteur” game. Their music is contemporary while also possessing heavy nostalgic sounds of 70s-era psychedelia, and 60s folk rock. Their music seems most well equipped for a delicate “on the road” or coming of age story with a healthy dose of surrealism. Songs like “Verdant” sound uniquely surreal with Shane Butler shifting between French and English with the slightest of ease make for east “match-this-band-with-an-auteur” fodder, but when played live, things are all the more enticing for the game.

With reference to Olden Yolk’s live set, the band has a distinct standing in terms of the hierarchy of American music in relation to Nashville. Recorded, Olden Yolk’s music sounds Nashville adjacent (for lack of a better term), but live, the group sounds like the spiritual cousin of the “new” Nashville sound. The mix of acoustic and synth sounds on top of strong americana/60s pop rhythms make for the ideal cap to a bill that also featured Ornament and Teddy & The Rough Riders. Where a song like “Takes One to Know One” sounds like a sub saharan hajj in the recorded version, but live, it sounds more like an old school groove from The Allman Brothers or in a roundabout way, The Band.

Granted, I’ve made it clear on numerous occasions that I’m against direct comparisons of bands, as it’s unfair to all parties involved, and ultimately, pretty lazy. So, I’ll cover my own behind with regard to the final statement of the last paragraph - those are only reminiscent comparisons of the songs, not Olden Yolk themselves. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we’d best be working our way back toward the matter of hand - what film auteur does Olden Yolk best accommodate? But before doing so, let’s take a moment to appreciate the surreal aspects of Olden Yolk.

As referenced earlier, the band’s music does have moments of “far out” Eastern influence, most notably in the sitar sounds on tunes like “Cut to the Quick,” where the melody is carried almost entirely by such sounds. But the surrealism of Olden Yolk is not only in it’s tonality. While on the relatively small High Watt stage, Olden Yolk sported a projector screen that touted everything from visions of dictionary text (focused on the word “capitalism”) to roses, to life moves, and more. Rather than detract from the show as a distraction - as is possible for less attune bands - but instead heightened the surrealist nature of Olden Yolk’s music. Also, for the record, it appeared to be the same imagery from the group’s “Vital Sign” video.

So, I figure the best approach at this point is to simply cut to the chase, as opposed to rambling further for the sake of whatever. So what auteur filmmaker would best suit Olden Yolk’s music? Admittedly, it was harder than anticipated, because there were aspects of Paul Thomas Anderson, Richard Linklater, Jim Jarmusch, and Greta Gerwig. That being said, I was able to whittle the list down to two final auteurs - Spike Jonze and Paolo Sorrentino. For the Jonze decision, I figured the driving but whimsical nature of Olden Yolk’s music would be put to the utmost utility thanks to Jonze’s own whimsy and his background with surrealist music videos (“Weapon of Choice” by Fatboy Slim) and films (Her, Where the Wild Things Are, Being John Malkovich). The other decision - Paolo Sorrentino - is based upon the Italian auteur’s distinct surreal style. Best known for The Young Pope, The Great Beauty, and Youth, Sorrentino seamlessly integrates modernity with surrealism with great success. So there you have it, Olden Yolk is a band of great intrigue, and one well worth diving into, “match-this-band-with-an-auteur” game or not.