Musical Literacy 101

If you’ve been following Jonathan Lethem’s career trajectory — his last book, You Don’t Love Me Yet, is a history of an imaginary indie band called Monster Eyes — you may think that the novelist would rather rock than write. With his new side project, I’m Not Jim, he finally gets to have his cake and eat it.

Lethem doesn’t actually sing (and for that you should be grateful). But he did write and record the words to melodies provided by Walter Salas-Humara (best known as the frontman of the alt-rock darlings the Silos). Chris Maxwell and Phil Hernandez, the producing duo known as Elegant Two, round out the lineup, and the results bring college-radio bands like Pavement and Galaxie 500 to mind. Lethem’s spoken-word tracks may require a few listenings to fully appreciate, but when Salas-Humara sings lines like “I’m gonna drink till I’m sober,” you’ll put down your book and turn up the volume.

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Musical Literacy 101