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Album Review

Nice Entrails
(& Other Earthly Delights)

I call Alex Arrowsmith the Demo King because he put together a large junkpile (and I use that in the nicest possible manner) of songs not long ago which would be a producer's delight. The album is titled Modernity Leave and he had it up for free download a few months ago and I thought, what the hell. The few songs I sampled were intriguing if not quite ready for prime time and I had time to kill. So I downloaded all 36 songs. That's thirty-six! Hell, if half the songs were anything at all, it was worth the time. Guess what? At least half were. I'm just having trouble figuring out which half.

Now, before I tell my tale here, you have to understand that Arrowsmith is not your run-of-the-mill musician. He's been recording for quite some time, sometimes with others, sometimes alone. Modernity Leave, to my knowledge, is one of the loners. Arrowsmith evidently locked himself in his basement and refused to come out for months and when he came out, damned if he didn't have a 'completed album' in his hands. I put the semi-parentheses around it because though some of the tracks are album-ready, others are not--- more snippets of ideas or decent tracks which could use some fleshing out. Yeah, like I know something, eh? Well, I have been a music junkie all of my life and I do know something, the main thing being that I have all of the attributes of a successful producer except the talent and the opportunity. I hear what could be done with some of those snippets and, man, how cool would it have been to have been there and have some pull.

Arrowsmith describes his albums on cdBaby as ?A horn of plenty containing catchy, goofy and creative pop songs? (A Bunch of Songs, 2002); ?The sound of The Beatles if they had been brainwashed in a secret CIA prison...? (Applewine, 2006); ?An XTC-esque tour de force of texture and melody complete with an airy quirkiness of Weezer and The Beatles? (Make Me Dinner EP, 2008); and ?A tightly-constructed cascade of pop melodies and a perfect soundtrack for archery lessons as well as shop class (last year's Public Domain Rainbow). For Modernity Leave, he simply states that it is ?an expansive experimental trip through the world of low-fi quirky pop, avant-garde and acoustic singer/songwritering.? What?! What the hell is that?

Allow me to translate. He recorded what he felt like (and let me tell you, he doesn't feel like anyone I hang out with). He lines up songs like a manic flea in a hot frying pan, leaping from track to track with little or no cohesion and no seeming sense of purpose. What, you say? Exactly. He jumps from a short snippet of a pop idea to a full on Zappa-esque mania semi-rap to a song reminiscent of early Modern Lovers and doesn't skip a beat. That's the beauty of it. It is (in case you didn't read Arrowsmith's own description) experi-mental! And just the kind of experiment that I'm sure certain producers would love to get their hands on. ?The kid has potential, Harry! Let me take him into the studio and see what we can do.?

Some of that potential impresses the hell out of me. Kill Me On a Friday is innocuous pop blather that many of the coolest pop and power pop bands were coming up with in the mid-to-late seventies--- bands like Pere Ubu and The Modern Lovers. I almost hate to say it, but the chorus of ?Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Kill me? is catchy as hell and I find myself bopping my head when I'm standing in lines at grocery stores with that song in my head. Dude Nice Entrails is a poet's nightmare or dream, depending upon poet, the lyrics being something along the lines of ?They look just like little dead snails/Nice entrails/I get lost in all the pretty details/Nice entrails.? Gawd, you gotta love the angles this guy has. Dr. Dre's New Album is the tour de force part--- a four-minute gastro-intestinal rave about just that--- Dre's new album. And he has other songs too--- Beer Can Chicken, Rock the Harmonium, Get a Job, Hippie, Pirates Still Aren't Funny. You get the picture. It is random insanity packed into a can of pop--- music, that is. It is a little over a minute of this and a little under four minutes of that stirred and fried. At the very least, it is pretty damn interesting.

I don't know who this Alex Arrowsmith is or whether his other albums (he has many) are anywhere as adventurous as Modernity Leave, but when I get some time, I might just try to find out. He's got something and something tells me that sometime in the future, I am going to have to find out what it is.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to listen to You Suck at Mandolin. I think Arrowsmith is trying to tell me something. Maybe if I play it backwards.....

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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