#11 on the 2010 Musical Bacon Calendar
Special Affections by Diamond Rings
I doubt the absurdity of the above video will keep you from liking Diamond Rings. Yes, his whole schtick is entirely ridiculous. But the songs that John O writes are also catchy beyond belief, and the insanity of the way the songs are presented is just icing on the cake.
I first heard and saw Diamond Rings in late September, and needless to say, I was blown away. Here’s the portion, in its entirety, of my review (he opened for Perfume Genius) that covered his set from that night:
Now, picture if you will, a tall and skinny 24-year old (but looking like a freshman in high school), wearing a Toronto Blue Jays ball cap, stone-washed jean jacket, Blue Jays tee shirt not quite long enough to permanently hide the outline of his, um, pork & beans(?), prominently featured thanks to the gold tights that clung to everything below his belly, all the way down to his white tube socks and all-white Nike Air hi-tops. Throw in a few gold necklaces with plastic key pendants, pink nail polish and bedazzled eyes and cheeks, and you’ve got a clear picture of John O. Introducing the surreal one-man act known as Diamond Rings. Not wanting to bring down Another Rainy Saturday with my sub-par iPhone photos, I encourage you to sidestep over to my personal chicken-scratch site, The Bacon Review, to see a pic of this spectacle for yourself.
I couldn’t help but giggle. It was just so over the top. But the giggles quickly subsided soon after he broke into the first song, accompanied by his stand-out choreographed dance routine. What possesses someone to go onstage and perform their own, extreme Napoleon Dynamite homage I’ll never know. But thank god he was willing to do it, because it was fantastic. He went all out, and it felt totally genuine — this is me, whether you like it or not.
He won us over very quickly. Catchy, Postal Service-esque songs, sung with a voice so deep you got the impression that Rick Astley was just off stage, singing lyrics for John O to lip-sync to. A laptop, stashed behind the unicorn-emblazoned flag (I kid you not) draped from the table, provided most of the music for his set. The only live instruments were the electric guitar and some plinky-plonky key on his synthesizer, both rented in Seattle for the evening, he said. The songs came across as feeling a bit simple, but that was OK. Diamond Rings’ brand of spectacular overrode any depth that these songs may have lacked. He was the perfect bridge between the lyrical Shenandoah and the whisper-like Perfume Genius. Keep your eyes out for this guy. I don’t know if Diamond Rings is where he’s going to excel in the long run, but John O is destined to be huge.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
12. Treats by Sleigh Bells
13. Write About Love by Belle & Sebastian
14. Wild Smile by Suckers
15. Learning by Perfume Genius
16. Forgiveness Rock Record by Broken Social Scene
17. Expo 86 by Wolf Parade
18. One Life Stand by Hot Chip
19. Big Echo by The Morning Benders
20. Here’s To Taking It Easy by Phosphorescent
21. This is Happening by LCD Soundsystem
22. The Mistress by Yellow Ostrich
23. Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter
24. Been Listening by Johnny Flynn
25. The Wild Hunt by The Tallest Man on Earth
26. Lisbon by The Walkmen
27. Scratch My Back by Peter Gabriel
28. All Day by Girl Talk
29. A Storm – A Tree – My Mother’s Head by Bobby Bare Jr.
30. 03 to TEN by Knathan Ryan
31. In This Light On This Evening by Editors