Monday, September 26, 2005

T, I (Magic number: 42)

that dog.- Totally Crushed Out!

Man, what a treat this disc is- a bargain basement closeout from my record club days that I never paid much attention to.

This reminds me of my first ‘band’, Feed The Cat Spam, if we had, you know, learned how to play and stuff. Lyrics are bare, confessional, and no frills- there is absolutely zero bullshit to be had about boys, relationships, boys, and relationships over sheets of dichotomy, uh, GUITAR, accented by cello. Sounds pretty dumb, I know, especially when I go out of my way to shed light on signifiers that are clichés when performed by a lesser band, but this record kicks major ass and probably would have been one of my favorites if they’d been around in like 1990. I’m not sure if their other stuff is as boy crazy as this record seems to be- maybe it’s a concept album, I don’t know. Doesn’t really matter, to be honest- I’m sufficiently impressed by the innocent gusto and Roches-like inflection of that dog. so that’ll track down the rest of their catalogue and find out for my bad self.

that dog.- Retreat From The Sun

More than a month passed between that last review and this one. A month- can you believe it? Before I flew to Texas I was poundin’ down the home stretch, in this groove where I was sitting down and writing for like two to three hours a day, as impressive of a period as I can remember having since I was clankin’ away at my novel a few years back. Since my return, I’ve lazed around for a while, started to get back into the swing of things, then had one of the craziest, balls-to-the-wall social weeks I’ve had in years, and here I am once more, tired and achy, once again aware of how fragile routine can be, how fickle the muse is, all that bullshit.

I tracked this record down at a local used place after returning from Texas. When I took it up to the counter, the guy looked at it for a sec, then at me, then his eyes rolled up and to the right, a sure sign that wheels were turning.

“Petra Haden, right? She did that ‘Who Sell Out’ record.”

I nodded my head. I suppose I’m lucky to have found it when I did- sounds like the a capella Who record has spurned a bit of a that dog. revival. Good for them, I say.

‘Retreat From The Sun’ is a slightly less boy crazy collection of songs than ‘Totally Crushed Out’, as you can probably intuit just by looking at the respective titles. Bigger production helps the band out- the (surprise!) vocal harmonies shine and stick out, further accented by the punky-but-non-threatening guitar work and Ms. Haden’s cello. There’s occasional shades of the Rentals, Ms. Haden’s Moog side project with one of the dudes from Weezer. A total gem that yields treasures at every corner.

Thingy- Songs About Angels, Evil, And Running Around On Fire

Rob Crow has one of those names that hollers cred to a certain teeny slice of the indie underground: ex-Heavy Vegetable, ex-Physics, current member of Pinback (which means associations with Three Mile Pilot). A hell of a resume if you’re down with the bands in question; total gibberish if you’re not- a party stopper, total Fagan material.

Look at the title of the album- warped humor that would probably fit on the same shelf as like Mike Patton, Ween, and/or Zappa. Thingy is more serious than Ween, composing their own material rather than (expertly, okay) vamping on other genres. The material in question is dense, occasionally intimidating and sometimes spung (you remember, right? spoken/sung) like Zappa’s stuff, although Thingy is never as bloated or self-satisfied as ol’ Frank was. As far as the Patton comparison goes, Crow and co-vocalist/conspirator Elea Tenuta have nowhere near the range, though they do bind and spin these wonderful harmonies. It’s easy as hell to fall into the trap of taking yr. bad self way too seriously if you’re a musician, I think, especially if you specialize in this super technical post-rock. Things never falls into the trap- tongue firmly in cheek even though the virtuosity is plainly evident. Twenty-four short, silly, great songs that kick all sorts of ass and have been amazingly overlooked.

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