Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
There are plenty of losers - floundering losers, balding losers and growing a beer belly that they'll proudly slap in mixed company when asked if they're still playing any basketball or jogging losers - occupying the title roles in Dent May songs and yet they're so kinda, sorta loveable and we're empathetic to them. They are the dudes unable to see past their pasts, spinning their wheels and doomed to continue making the same mistakes over and over again, gaining nothing but more bruises and further reinforcement that life sucks for them. They're just pitiful, but they're not slitting their wrists or measuring the distance between their ceiling beams and the floor below. As weird as it is, many fit into this role of those just not winning out there, making a term like "loser" not all that mean or disparaging. They are the guys who have set themselves up - through dick moves and dickheadedness in their younger years - for others to take delight in their failings be it languishing in a shitty job, not getting the prom queen to actually marry them or any number of other social bankruptcies. May does shoot to maim on some songs though - aiming at those students for life who are just like the cocky prick in "Good Will Hunting," for instance, the one who Matt Damon forces to "like them apples" - but it's all with a tongue planted deep into the cheek. Here's betting that May - the Mississippi boy with the thick glasses and friends in Animal Collective - is as inclusive of a party-thrower as anyone you'll ever meet. If you're bringing your own beer (even if you're not, he'll likely share some of his own) and you come to his soiree limbered up and with big grin on your face, you'll get a pass and you can get down as much and as late into the night as anyone else, as long as the music's still pumping. Dent May's music is everything he is as a guy: it's fun, it's smart, it's mildly sarcastic, it's like a fellow who will hit you up for a little weed and it's dated in a way that reminds us that most songwriters have forgotten what hooks used to be and that a good love lament - a little song about begging for fun and love and perhaps not getting any can be and should be amusing, or else you'll just look like a sorry sap. The pinings and luminations that May brings to the floor on "The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele," are given to a flair for not getting depressed about anything and just having a good ass time. The quality of time spent is measured in the amount of dancing being done and the amount of potential romance that fills the room. It could be a perfume, a little leg or just a slightly sloppy smile that means that the buzz is set in good. It's a sloppy first kiss, backed up against the wall, between two people who will purposefully or accidentally forget what the other looks like the following day - the locking of lips or the clumsy grope just a blissed out piece of something to be forgotten. May sings that you can't force a dance party, but "for you I'll try," and yet there's nothing forced in his music, in his melodies or in the gilded thoughts of evenings gone completely or almost completely right. Some nights don't turn out perfectly and the same is true with those that you get to know in college - still ambitious and still handsome or pretty for a few more years - and then most everyone gets worked over a little, grilled and burnt. There is still a honeymoon period in there and May straddles the intersecting lines between the occasionally tragic aftermath, the glorious prelude and something in-between.