So Cow with Sisters, Golden Triangle and O Fidelis
8 p.m. Monday
8911 N. Western
The best thing about falling in love with So Cow is that there’s so much to love.
The band is the brainchild of bespectacled Irishman Brian Kelly, who writes and records all the music when not flogging the material as a live trio. So Cow has released two albums, totaling 34 songs, and a pair of cover EPs in just the past year.
If it weren’t very good, that’d be one thing, but So Cow is a noisy, crackling, indie-pop outfit combining careening chaos; hooky, serrated strumming; and the self-conscious weirdness of Pavement.
Kelly’s currently supporting his second proper album, last month’s “Meaningless Friendly,” a follow-up to 2009’s self-titled debut, which collected the best from several self-released CDs.
He got his start while teaching English in Korea and frequenting local open mics. It seems he was in the doldrums after graduating college with a journalism degree, when a friend suggested good money was to be made in Korea. Five weeks later, Kelly was on an airplane.
That same friend ran an open-mic night there, and so Kelly began dipping his toes in, penning tracks like “Moon Guen Young,” which references the Korean pop star, and “Ja Ju Ah Pa Yo,” which gets its lyrics from a Korean phrase book (translation: “I’m frequently unwell”).
“My pronunciation was dire, so they couldn’t practically tell what I was saying, but they knew it was Korean and that made them giggle,” Kelly said. “So I was on giggling terms with Korean audiences for about a year.”
When he finally returned home to Tuam, Ireland, a couple years ago, he began recording what he’d written in the shed behind the house or his parents’ living room when no one was home. He’s pretty prolific, but not particularly precious about the recording process, enabling him to get a lot of material together.
“I place more value in kind of having spontaneity or instinct than spending months and months and months on it,” he said. “I’m very interested in albums, as opposed to kind of getting 10 songs together, then working for weeks on one song that’s over in two and a half minutes.
Despite that, Kelly claimed that recording is his favorite part of the process. He admitted he’s not a particularly gifted drummer or bassist, but his raw, lo-fi ethos complements tunes that buzz by at the speed of thought. Indeed, the large number of covers he’s released is actually a product of how much he enjoys recording.
Constantly at his side is an MP3 player on which he’s already collected more than 100 demos and ideas. He hopes to cull that down to 30 songs and record them over the course of the year. That’s in addition to the 16 tracks he’ll cut on a trip this summer to Korea. Oh, and he’s planning on doing another set of covers when he returns to Ireland in a couple months.
Kelly can’t explain his prodigious production schedule, and doesn’t try.
“I enjoy the process of everything that’s going on, but the most enjoyable part of it’s doing a recording in a shed or a room. I don’t see any point in the future where that’s not going to be the most enjoyable part. But maybe I’m going about this all wrong,” he said. “I don’t if it’s ignorance, arrogance or brilliance. It just makes more sense to me.” “Chris Parker