Wednesday, June 01, 2005

M, II

MC Paul Barman- It’s Very Stimulating

It’s hard to be taken seriously if you put out a funny record. There’s a fine line that one walks- push things too much and you land in Weird Al territory, damning yourself to an eternity of playing to overcaffeinated fourteen-year-olds with thick glasses and bad haircuts. Too little humor and it gets skimmed over, or, worse, missed entirely.

So where does MC Paul Barman, a brazenly nerdy New York Jew doing hip-hop, fall on the continuum? Well, most of the time his subject matter is pretty juvenile- he sings about what a bad lay he is, and his endless, self-depreciating quest for pussy. The geek squad in the lunchroom doubtlessly shot myriad cartons of milk out of their noses the first time they heard some of this shit, trust me. Thing is, though, that the guy’s incredibly engaging. He Fagens all over the place, effortlessly dropping little bits of pop culture and trivia into his lyrics (check out ‘my pissed off jimbroski turned three colors like Krystof Kryslofsky’, for one. Damn!) The other thing is that the lyrics themselves are incredibly technical- he crams amazing tongue twisters into spaces that are a few syllables shorter than what he really needs to pull certain phrases off. He manages, though, and nimbly (‘Smirkin' jocks with hackysacks/in Birkenstocks and khaki slacks/ I'm the hypest lyricist/while they're like, 'What type of beer is this?') It’s funny as hell, and dense, to boot- the six song running length is the perfect amount of time for Barman to come in and fuck around in pain-staking, exhaustive fashion, then get out before you get tired of his too-clever geek/too-lame everyman schticks.

MC Paul Barman- Paullelujah!

Barman finds the line and straddles it with ease. There’s still all sorts of hilarious juvenilia to be found on his full length-“Cock Mobster” is a list of all of the celebrities he wants to have sex with, f’r example (‘Winona Ryder? Goin’ inside her.’)- but, let’s face it, a whole album of jokes about farts and pussy would have been pretty tedious, no matter how effortlessly the dense dork/tech rhymes flow.

Select cuts on this album pick up the social commentary/satire tip that were first displayed, with mixed success, on the ‘Senioritis’ cut on the ‘Stimulating’ EP. Barman effectively dissects/critiques feminists marches and punk rock business(‘N.O.W.’ and ‘Anarchist Bookstore Pt. 1’, respectively), and does so by incorporating humor into his observations. Both songs could have come off as heavy-handed or mean-spirited (especially the feminist march one), but his jabs are gentle but still poignant.

Meat Puppets- II

If the Meat Puppets hadn’t had the good fortune of being idolized by Kurt Cobain, they still could have made a bunch of money by suing the ever-living shit out of Wilco. Man, did Jeff Tweedy ever steal the warmed-over rock-inflected country/vice versa from these guys- we’re talking grand theft here. At least Nirvana admitted it.

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