Amen Dunes Debuts Video For “Boys”

Amen Dunes Shares new Video For "Boys." The track is off his forthcoming release Death Jokes
Amen Dunes photo by Michael Schmelling

Amen Dunes is the project of Damon McMahon, the New York City native will release his new album, Death Jokes, on May 10th via Sub Pop Records. Ahead of the Full-length’s arrival, he has shared a Stephen Brahms directed video for “Boys.” The track is the follow up to previous single “Purple Land.”

During the recording of Death Jokes, McMahon fought intense illness for most of 2020, first with Covid, then with lingering respiratory issues, and thirty lost pounds. Throughout this depleted state, two years and twenty-one failed collaborations passed. He was unable to find those who understood his unorthodox methods, this “loose, wild, self-propelled approach” that signaled a new direction for Amen Dunes. As he kept working, McMahon saw the birth of his first child, moved cross country from Los Angeles to Woodstock, NY, and dove repeatedly into the uncertain states of learning and losing. He knew he had to go it mostly alone this time, but not everything from that year was a wash. However small, the collaborations that worked proved to be profound. The jazz bassist Sam Wilkes appears on a trio of songs, producers Christoffer Berg (Fever Ray) and Kwake Bass (Tirzah, Dean Blunt) provided tracks on several others; sessions with Panoram and Money Mark also ended up in the final version of Death Jokes. On most songs, McMahon incorporated sounds, talking, and music pilfered from YouTube. The vast collage of samples include an interview with J Dilla, recordings from Type O Negative and Coil, a lyre performance of the oldest written song in human history, protest chants, a grunting powerlifter, and bits of stand-up from Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and others, as “thought provocation and irritant.”

The songs on Death Jokes almost seem to foresee the pandemic, but they’re more about the lingering effects those years have had on all of us, spiritually and emotionally. Their meaning morphed as the pandemic went on: at first they were reflections on our attachment to form, and to ourselves, and then they shifted into solemn indictments of our culture’s blind spots as we misjudge and attack, our veiled self-centeredness and self-importance masquerading as morality.

Seen as an essay, Death Jokes reaches a thesis in the last two tracks. These songs mourn “the soul atrophy and separation between us” but they mourn with hope that we might be able to move past the coldness of holding passing convictions above the more complicated truths inherent in this life. These are gospel songs. They’re spirituals that have clawed their way out of a culture dead-set on smothering the boldness that a spiritual life fosters.

Many portions of the above press release are pulled from the Death Jokes bio by Catherine Lacey.

Pre order Death Jokes by Amen Dunes HERE


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