Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Audio Neurotic Fixation: Students of the Unusual Giant-Sized Music Special #1

This is basically a sampler CD featuring Students of the Unusual comic book contest winners and probably some label talent snuck through the back door. The whole album sounds professionally, and sometimes heavily, produced. The thing is, for most of these people, this is the most significant act of their lives outside marriage and children. Most all of these efforts are earnest and pleasing enough to the ear on repeat listens. For $3, you could do a hell of a lot worse-- like actually read the comic book this came from. I'd recommend it to geeks especially, with select cuts appropriate for mass consumption.

  1. "The Dark Harbor Strangler" by Ty Bru: The winner of the SOTU song contest, and a lot more entertaining than most of the crap played every two hours on the Houston hip-hop station I'm subjected to at work. The flow is smooth, a better story is told here than anything in the comics, and those digital hand claps are infectious. All things considered, it's pretty sick.
  2. "Giant-Sized Extra Credit Special" by The Impediments: A lot of these tunes will be familar to fans of 80's radio. You're liable to assume this is "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" by Joe Jackson until an out-of-tune "grunge" voice screeches "Well Roger Miller is the King of the Road, and I'm the king of Rock n' Roll!" It blessedly gets better from there, sort of like Cracker covering Bruce Springfield, if David Lowerly were smashed blind. For some reason, the phrase " watch over you with the chicken wire" will not leave my head.
  3. "The Strangler" by Sterling Schroeder: Another one of those eerily familiar tunes, though it's a folkie on guitar, so what else is new? The vocals aren't great, and some of the phrasing is awkward, but another horror story teller that begs forgiveness. I'd throw some change in his case at the alternative coffee bar.
  4. "Keep on rockin', there ain't no stoppin'!" by Students of the Unusual: Is that damned song you can't name by a one-hit wonder that popped up on a half-dozen movie soundtracks and still gets play. Ever see that episode of "Married... With Children" where Al keeps humming "mmm mm him" in a bid to remember a song (see comments.) Well, "Mm mm mm-mm mm mmm, to your heart!" But with an accordian, a guy constantly affecting an Elvis "uh-huh," and a tunelessly rambling chorus. Still, sounds fine.
  5. "Trent Jones (The Recalcitrant Groove)" by Subshark's Toupee & the Melvinators: Book these guys for your next graduation or Baht Mitvah! A damned fine funk ensemble with some sweet guitar licks and nice harmonizing.
  6. "Theme From Recalcitrant Jones the Animated Series" by The Yuri Gagarins: What the name implies, by way of the garage version of 60's surf music. Dig it Annette, Frankie's shooting a curl!
  7. Deadbeats' Dysfunction by Jezebel: By this point, conceptual fatigue is setting in, with an R.E.M./Billy Joel auctioneer's ramble of comic book errata. Pass.
  8. "Dead Beats" by Students of the Unusual: Sluggish "Tell Laura I Love Her"-type moan that tests your advance button.
  9. "I'm So Curious (SOTU Mix)" by SANDra Fisher: An nakedly obvious R&B demo repurposed for the contest. Doesn't matter, as you need a break from "Recalcitrant Jones" references by this point, and again, it's as good as anything on the radio these days. My favorite song on the CD, and damned catchy, though the vocals strain audibly at times.
  10. "Red Shirt" by Ashley Holt (thrdgll): These guys should so be playing the sci-fi convention bar. Cute, and holds up after the strain of other tracks through more sideways references.
  11. "P Zombie Z" by Peelander-Z with Yusuke Kawaguchi: Asian punk rock where the only word I can consistently make out is "zombie?" Okay, sure. If this is the kind of thing you like, you'll like this kind of thing, especially with the enthusiasm on display.
  12. "Zombie Jamboree" by Ash Reeder: An aged Dr. Demento does zydeco, which despite fragile vocals and another likely repurposing, is infectious. "Back to back and belly to belly/ I don't give a damn/ I'm stone dead already." Damn skippy, and dig the steel drum.
  13. "Students of the Unusual" by Robin & Eddy with the Unfourseen: Something like a cross between spoken word performance and those old hippies that play at the local church a few times a year. So kookie and distant from everything else on the album, it makes for a great change-up.
  14. "Ghost Car (One of Those Years)" by Ty Bru: The contest winner gets a second and final cut. Rolls like an LLCoolJ b-side, but plays out the disc on a high note refardless.


Anonymous said...

Almost everything in #4 is incorrect.

You are referring to Little Peggy March who had a #1 hit with "I Will Follow Him" in early 1963. She was not a one-hit wonder (she had three hits :-)

Your reference to Lesley Gore being a one hit wonder is a bit puzzling. Look at the Billboard charts. She had eleven top 20 hits, and eight more that made the national charts.

Your Al Bundy reference is incorrect also. The song was "Anna" (go with him)... this was sung by a male singer. I would have to look up the name.

Too many mistakes in one footnote.

I guess you're just making things up for fun -- take care and have fun!

Diabolu Frank said...

See, I have a large, diverse music collection, but I am not remotely as well versed in that field as comics (hense the anxiety.) My Comic-Fu is mighty; Music-Fu only above-average. I'd love to talk about popular music more, but the potential for outside pownership is so very high. I will not refute a single word of this comment. In my defense, I will say that the "one-hit wonder" mention was only (hopefully) intended for the sound-alike to "Keep on rockin', there ain't no stoppin'," not Lesley Gore or Little Peggy March. I only (sorta kinda) referenced them in a tongue-in-cheek aside.

Anonymous said...

awesome concept-- I think there is something for everyone on their album and the comic is more professional rhan some at Marvel or DC. My favorites are the Impediments and Ty Bru--they deserved to win!

Diabolu Frank said...

I agree that Ty Bru deserved his win, but also liked SANDra Fisher and Ash Reeder best.


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