Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sweet Caroline

Owusu & Hannibal

Caroline No - Owusu & Hannibal

I'm still knocking about the borders of the charming debut album, Living with Owusu & Hannibal (Ubiquity Records, eMusic). But perched on the cusp of a clear chill October weekend, this slippery steel and vaporous liquid nitrogen cover of the Beach Boys' "Caroline No" demands now. Air trumpet, punch-drunk bass, burping beats--all swim weightless in Owusu & Hannibal's cocktail lounge spaceship as the Danish electro-R&B duo moondance with sugarbeet shadows. California white boy gravity and mope is upgraded in 2006 to sanguine multi-culti urbanity. This time, the girl comes around ... with yes on her lips.

Shower Owusu & Hannibal with hugs and kisses at their Myspace.

"Caroline No" isn't my favorite track on Pet Sounds. Not even close. But it always makes me think of my grandmother (named Caroline), and what a maddening woman she could be. Maddening in the best ways: willful, unconventional, spontaneous, unconcerned about what she was supposed to be doing at any given time and what anyone else might think of it. These qualities took on sharper, more obtrusive angles as she grew older. And they conspired to drive my literal-minded, Midwestern farm-raised grandfather batty. While I can't specifically recall a time when I heard him say "Caroline, no!" I can imagine him thinking it often. The adults would be playing pinochle, smoking, drinking gin and tonics, and my grandmother would suddenly fold. She'd announce that she was going to her basement studio to draw. Or perhaps she'd just then decided she preferred to play games with her grandchildren on the front porch. She rarely took adult concerns seriously (disliked politics, was indifferent to gossip) but if you had lost one of your doll's shoes or wanted to swim in the lake, these were the most pressing matters in the world.


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