Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Space Car (2013)
The joke, when you come over to my place, is to say, "Hey Ben, let's watch something light and cheerful!" I don't do light and cheerful very well. My shelves are crammed with stuff like 700-page Victorian and Russian novels, hard-boiled crime stories and books about the Yakuza, Occupy Wall Street and the NSA. The Wire plays pretty much on constant repeat on my TV (it's playing even as I type this). Let's not even talk about my Clint Eastwood and Sam Peckinpah collections.
Anyway, when I do find something that makes me laugh and let go, I think I appreciate it all the more. When I listened to local band Space Car's debut album, I laughed so hard that I worried a little about crashing my car (I was driving at the time). I appreciated that.
Space Car can tickle your funny bone a few different ways. If you want some straight-up goofiness, try "Pamelama," a Flight of the Conchords-esque ode to Pamela Anderson and Dita Von Teese's panties, or the extraterrestrial cuckolded rage of "Man From Mars." If you want something with a little more bite, you can go with the winningly callow kiss-off "Baby Yo Breff Stank" ("To top it all off, baby, you don't have red hair!") or the jauntily lovelorn "Fine Fine Fine." The gleefully absurd intergalactic radio show skits that unify the album should go over well with fans of MST3K and Sifl and Olly.
You can't laugh at the album's craftsmanship, however. Ian Jones, Nicholas Coutts and Phillip Johnson's vocals hit just the right raucous, sneering tone. The consistently catchy tunes are well served by Exploding Head Trick Productions' production, which gives a warm clarity to the voices and acoustic guitar. It also adds hand-claps, sotto voce asides, electric guitar, strings and other little touches without calling undue attention to them. All of this helps the jokes go down smoother.
The odd track out is the last one, "Previous Sightings." It's actually three songs strung together: a protest folk song that may or may not be a joke, a ballad about trying to write a song that doubles as a parody of Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie (it features one of the best imitations of the Starman's quavery delivery that I've ever heard) and a deceptively sweet folk-pop ditty ("She was pretty, I was prettier than her"). Is this supposed to show how drab life is without Space Car Radio (the songs are separated by the sound of someone switching between radio stations)? Or is it an acknowledgement of realities beyond all the joking around? Honestly, it works either way. Or both ways. I appreciate that.
You can find info on Space Car on Facebook and elsewhere online. You can purchase Space Car at the Record Exchange or download it from Bandcamp. If you like what you've read and would like to help keep it going, please click the yellow "Give" button in the upper right-hand corner and donate whatever you can. Every little bit helps.