It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a rock opera but The Workers certainly conjured up images of Tommy with their latest EP Totem. Lead by Dan Greenwald, Totem is a collection of deliciously odd melodies.
The Workers bill themselves at The Talking Heads meets Frank Zappa but I think Totem is even more surreal than that. Jangly, bluegrassy, cinematic and gorgeously haunted with a sort of Weird Al Yankovic twang in the vocals.
Each track is a surprise. I think we’re heading in one direction and Greenwald and The Workers take us in another.
So many people are so constrained,
Stay the path is so engrained.
Arc me through the swinging door,
Sweep me from the killing floor.
It’s often said, change is good.
All will cycle, that’s understood.
Nothing slows the march of time.
And, I’ve yet to yield my prime.
The Workers have a loyal fan base, having locked down the ASCAPlus Popular Division Award winner three time. They climbed to #18 on the NYC ReverbNation charts.
Classically trained Greenwald is also a fellow band nerd. I love knowing this. He played clarinet from elementary school until graducation from New Rochelle High School. In college, he would take up the guitar and master that instrument as well as fully absorbing himself into writing music for this band The Workers.
The bands sound was definitely forged at a time where music was specifically 80s, 90s. Let’s a take a moment to miss those times. Sigh.
But good news! The Workers are in the here and now and also touring. So you can hear Totem live. Woohoo!
Before I go, I do want to talk about the three tracks on this EP.
“Death Race” is definitely got that They Might Be Giants scrawl to it. The music is wonderful. The lyrics smart and clever and Greenwald’s voice is a little bit Elvis Costello in the 80s and a little bit Weezer.
“Boomerang” is eerie and beautiful. Probably my favorite track. I love the dadaesque Sunday afternoon lilt of it. I keep playing this track over and over. So maybe “Boomerang” is my favorite track. Hard to say.
But then there’s “Big Time.”
“Big Time” has that rock opera quality to it as if a storyline is about to launch us onstage, red velvet curtains parting and a tanned, shaggy-haired star in platform heels sauntering into the spot light. Juicy. Love it.
Totem is great for your indie film project or just a stroll around the neighborhood. Just a lovely little ride.
Members/Instruments on Totem:
Dan Greenwald-Lead Vocals, Acoustic Rhythm Guitar
Will Hensley-Electric Lead and Pedal Steel Guitars
Doug Garnett-Electric Rhythm Guitar, Keys
Jesse Terry-Male Backup Vocals
Juliana Riccardi-Female Backup Vocals
Producer/Recording & Mixing Engineer-Will Hensley
Mastering Engineer-Alex Saltz
Totem Track Listing: