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The Workers are primarily a vehicle for New York singer/songwriter Dan Greenwald, and the group has just released a new EP entitled Totem. For the relative heaviness of the EP’s cover artwork, there’s a certain wistful and outsider feel to the songs here. The music is highly poppy and melodic, but there’s something indefinably askew about it. Perhaps it’s the endearingly simple lyrics or the Daniel Johnston vocals, but in an alternative universe, one could easily see all of these songs being hits.
Very few artists, like Jonathan Richman along with Johnston, can pull off childish lyrics in such a way that they almost seem punk rock, and The Workers do just that, like “Death Race,” a song purely about the perils of driving. It’s almost silly, but because it’s done so earnestly, it becomes art. On “Boomerang” there a certain repetitive dreaminess to the melody, like a boiled down version of melancholy Beatlesque pop, and the final track, “Big Time,” features more of the same sunny harmonies although with some Dark Side of the Moon storminess mixed in for good measure. This may not be for everyone, but fans of Johnston, Half Japanese or Beat Happening will instantly find a home in Totem.
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