Okay. I feel really bad about this. My truck
ate Scotís CD.
Let me explain. See, myself, PostLibyan and Tracers (and my
wife, and Squid, and the Priestess, but not Zythos, Dutchie,
or that guy in LA) all went to university together. Also attending
said university was a lovely young lass whom weíll call Rizzbess.
(Rizzbess is probably our default legal counsel, now that I
think about it, should we ever truly piss someone off.) [EDITOR'S
NOTE: Rizzbess is indeed On Retainer to EvilSponge. It never
hurts to have a lawyer handy. -- Brendan] Anyway, we
all went to school with Rizzbess, right? And then, later, Rizzbessí
sister attended the same school (with me, but not with P-Lib
or Tracers.) Rizzbessí sister eventually started going out with
this guy, Scot. Because we all still, on occasion, will hang
out with Rizzbess and her sister, we all met Scot. By the time
Scot got off his ass and married sister-girl, weíd all become
pretty good friends.
So, now weíve got this buddy, Scot. Right? Because of Rizzbess.
And we like Scot. Heís a good guy. Heís funny (though not as
funny as me.) He has good taste in beer. Mostly. A good guy,
Scot. And talented. Puts together a mean composition of Beatlesesque
guitar pop on occasion, music that lands somewhere between folk
and Matthew Sweet, he does. As good or better, really, than
the vast majority of stuff youíre going to hear at Eddieís
So Scot released his fourth CD a couple months ago. And of
course, he sent us a copy. That is, I would argue, the rational
and reasonable thing to do, after all. Said CD made its way
down to me to review, and out I set to review it. (We could
tangent off into my insane backlog of reviews now, but wonít.)
The way I review CDs is this: I take them out to my truck,
and I listen to them for at least a week as I drive back and
forth to work. This is probably why I like upbeat pop music
so much more than the shoegazer stuff that P-Libís into. But
again, this is a tangent.
So, I listen to music in my truck, during my commute to and
from work. Or wherever the hell else Iím going. This, bracketed
by headphone sessions at work, is where I digest music. So I
took Scotís CD to the truck. And from there, it vanished into
thin air quite mysteriously. I mean itís not like someone stole
it. Because I would think they would have taken, you know, the
other twenty or so CDs in there as well, and maybe even the
laptop thrown carelessly in the backseat. But these things did
not dissipate into thin air. Only Scotís CD did that.
I am flummoxed. I mean the thing is just gone. Nowhere
to be found; no longer of this world; an ex-parrot. Iíve spent
the past two weeks searching every possible CD hiding place,
to no avail. The little
gray men now have Scotís CD, apparently. And they got it
out of my truck. This disturbs me in a quite visceral way.
Scotís new CD is called The Island of Misfit Songs.
Itís a compilation of stuff from 1989-2003, mostly songs that
didnít seem to fit neatly onto one
of his other releases. Thereís good stuff here. Thereís
some stuff that should probably have been left on whatever dusty
shelf he dug it off. The first four tracks are all very good
stuff. Track three, Ice Storm is actually on my short
list for inclusion on the 2003 best of compilation (which is
probably the highest compliment any of us 'Spongers ever give
a song.) Four, My Fascist Girlfriend is pretty damned
amusing, and itís good for sing-a-longs while driving.
Dance of Light and On Strike sort of lose me though, mostly because
of my allergies to earnestness. Earnestness is to me as lactose
is to P-Lib. Track seven, A Sort of Mental Housecleaning
feels like itís got something worthwhile hiding inside, but
I canít quite find it.
But Throwback picks up another solid vibe and gets the
head to bobbing again. The vocals here feel less forced, too.
Scot, buddy, youíre a tenor. Embrace this. The baritone stuff
doesnít make sense to me. Stop that. Lamppost, again,
is a very good, poppy, hooky song and Iím singing along again.
We will not mention ďtrack 9 Ĺ,Ē because Scot is my friend.
Letís just say that I think Lamppost would have been
an excellent end to the compilation, Ďkay.
So, when we get down to it, The Island of Misfit Songs
opens strong, sort of sags in the middle, regains its focus
a couple of tracks from the end, and then forgets to end when
it should. Thatís not bad at all, especially considering that
it is, in the end, a compilation of songs that just donít fit
into track listings particularly well.
Should you go get a copy? Well, hell, sure. Scotís a good guy,
and like I said, heís as good or better than most folksy pop
singers out on various scenes. Going in youíre going to need
a basic appreciation of straight pop melodies, earnest lyricism
and multi-layered productions, and honestly, Iíd suggest you
start with one of his last ďalbums properĒ before swinging by
The Island of Misfit Songs comp, but otherwise
you should be pleasantly fulfilled. And if youíre in the Chapel
Hill, NC area, maybe you should look him up sometime. If you
talk music with him, heíll probably buy you beer.
As for sponge ratings, hereís my basic calculus: 4 sponges
for quality of material, plus 1 for being a good guy, minus
1 for apparently having CDís that disappear into thin air and
make you paranoid about driving your truck. So, 4 sponges, with
the disclaimer that I like Ice Storm enough to consider
bumping the entire release back up to 5, and would if not for
that Big Toe song at the end.