Indie rock and ice-cream trucks share an unspoken bond: Both traffic in a wistful, regressive, endangered-seeming kind of joy … fine, we may be reaching. Still, with a recent rash of indie rockers releasing children's albums (or, worse, children singing indie rock), it was only a matter of time before the ultimate kiddie canon came up for reinvention: ice-cream-truck tunes.
Enter Michael Hearst of the Brooklyn lit-rock assemblage One Ring Zero, who's done a whole album of the stuff, and will be presenting the CD — called, naturally, Songs for Ice Cream Trucks — at Housing Works on May 26. Whether you find the idea brilliant or insufferably cloying, it's got the genre's equivalent of cred sewn up: Hearst may not be hitting the festival circuit in a truck like the other notorious Ice Cream Man, but, says the singer, at least seven vendors nationwide have already taken up the ditties.
This begs one obvious question. Can one listen to the album indoors without slipping into a sugar coma? Happily, the twelve songs aren't as monophonic as their inspirations. Truth be told, they sound not unlike One Ring Zero's normal sad-around-the-edges carnival-esque fare, with extra helpings of glockenspiel and claviola in the arrangements. There's a Tom Waits–ish "Where Do Ice Cream Trucks Go in the Winter?," a charmingly dorky "hip-hop" track called "Ice Cream, Yo," and the big closer "Before I Drive Away." You get the idea. One also suspects they'd make diabolical ringtones.
Hearst got his famous friends Michael Chabon and Lemony Snicket to blurb the CD, which gives the otherwise supremely poker-faced project its only false note of twee hipsterism. But we're way more excited about the sugar daddy he lined up for the release party: 5 Boroughs Ice Cream, a purveyor of South Bronx Cha Cha and Staten Island Landfill. Now that's a name drop that gets asses in the seats. —Michael Idov
Songs for Ice Cream Trucks [Official site]