Here at the HO Home:
IndepenDisc Music Club president G. Gone
It starts like this: the lights do their thing, and The Dan Emery Mystery Band is there. The Inimitable Mr. Emery looks out at the crowd, his eyes full of estimation and eager whimsy, the ghost of a smile on his lips. Whoever you are and wherever you've put yourself, he manages to catch your gaze. "Tonight we have one mission and one mission only," he says, "which is to entertain you to the best of our abilities." And then they do.
Click the handy box and buy Natural Selection now!
Or so it was, at least. On June 8th, 2002, Dan Emery hung up his rockstar spurs, packed away the capo, and retired -- for now, at least -- from the independent music scene. It's been half of a rumpled and exciting decade of tilting against New York's musical windmills, years filled with growth and triumphs and, yes, disappointments, and Dan's songwriting story goes back to the early '90s. We at Home Office Records are sorry to see the band go; Dan is a unique and wonderful talent, and his step out of the business is eloquent if mute testimony to the many things wrong with how music works in this crazy world.
Save the Last Dance for Me: The music survives. Although a mere tenth or so of Dan's prodigious output was commercially released, that tenth is still here to stir and tamper. We hope you will join us, Dan Emery, and the Mystery Band via their two albums. You won't do better for your entertainment buck.
So if you never had a chance to dance the dance with the Dan Emery Mystery Band you can still get your home taste with their terrific final CD, Natural Selection, pictured in its roaring saurian glory at left. With 13 tracks and a 48-minute running time, and produced by Nathan Rosenberg (who scored a gold record for his work with Poe), Natural Selection is packed with gleeful romps and soft-handed considerate musings alike. From the wry affectionate tease of "Mustard," which kicks off this easy trip into Mystery Band Land, to the acid commentary of "Salt Mine," to the thoughtful if not precisely tender "I'm Not Being Very Good to My Girl," this is a many-splendored record and a must-hear outing, an album for the ages.
Josh Max in The Aquarian
The Dan Emery Mystery Band is a brash delight. Natural Selection lived up to its title as a natural selection on commercial and college radio from Champaign, IL (congrats to WEFT 90.1 FM, the first station to chart the album during our last radio push, and hats off to WUSB 90.1 FM in Stony Brook, NY, for being the first to chart it ever!) to College Station, TX (props to KEOS 89.1 FM, the first to email us to holler above and beyond the call of duty about how much they love the CD), from coast to coast and on Internet feeds worldwide. With its mix of relevance, wit, honesty, and catchy licks, Natural Selection is an easy pick to love hard.
The Mystery Band's first CD, Love and Advertising (1998), is a burst of youthful energy and grand faith: it was financed by 119 of their canny fans, who knew when they were seeing something good and ponied up money (up to $273 in one generous case) to get the CD recorded and pressed. And it stands as a tribute to Dan's idealistic way of working -- each of those 119 supporters, even the ones who chipped in just $2, is listed in the album credits under Executive Producers. The Mystery Band's approach to music and more was always to create community out of every gathering, to collect and consolidate and then give it all back to the audience and the fans, multiplied ten-fold.
George Tabb in The New York Press
And it works. Without distribution to record stores and with the band working their own publicity, Love and Advertising picked up a passel of great reviews, airplay on more than 20 regional radio stations, and a top-ten of 1998 pick from Big O magazine (on a list with Elliott Smith, Belle and Sebastian, Massive Attack and Neutral Milk Hotel). In 1999 the disc was chosen as a Featured Selection and Best 10 of the Year by IndepenDisc Music Club president G. Gone. You'll find links to these boosters in the dark column on the left of this screen: check out the enthusiastic words. This is a band with the power to communicate.
The Village VOICE (Armstrong)
Dan's keenly-observed song-stories and frank voice are at the heart of the Mystery Band music. Reviewers compare their sound to Beck, Jonathan Richman, Ben Folds Five, Arlo Guthrie, They Might Be Giants, Violent Femmes and Son Volt. If there's a common thread there, it's taking the listener into a heightened and recognizable world, and then unfolding that world into stories and asides that are both novel and instantly familiar. Natural Selection spins some of the Mystery Band's finest tales to date, featuring live-show staples "T. Rex," "Salt Mine" and "Downloading Smut from the Internet," as well as revisiting classic Dan Emery ground with new updated recordings of "Student Loan," "Her Favorite Bra" and the underground stripped-down raving anthemic ramble "The Only One Who Loves You." On Home Office Records. Of course.
We welcome your email input and comments; feel free to drop us a line and say hi. We'll forward your messages to the band. If the time comes when the Dan Emery Mystery Band finds the waters ripe for a plunge back in, we'll let you know: you're welcome to join our quiescent Mystery Band mailing list, and if there are more recordings and shows to be had you'll hear about it early and often. Thanks for visiting, and let's send them off with a cheer.