I was really into the Polyphonic Spree record about a year ago and read somewhere that frontman Tim Delaughter was the singer in Tripping Daisy. There were some pretty rabid recommendations on Amazon for the third TD album - "Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb," so I ordered a used copy. It took a few spins to get into, but damn it's a keeper. Melodic art pop heaven. If ya care: it's produced by Eric Drew Feldman - who was a member of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, played keyboards for Pere Ubu for a while, and also produced some of Frank Black's earlier solo stuff.
Anyways, as its title suggests, "Our Drive to the Sun / Can a Man Mark it?" comes in two parts. "Our Drive ..." is sunshiney modern pop in the vein of the Flaming Lips, with hooks galore (there are like four parts that could qualify as killer choruses). At about the four minute mark, the track morphs into "Can a Man ...", which sounds something like a Gary Numan song remixed by Kevin Shields. Great change ups throughout and just a real nice listen.
from Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb, available on CD (Island)
This song was ravaged by critics in reviews of the Stark Reality 2003 reissue (it was previously-unreleased and included as a bonus track), but I think it's frickin' great. It's apparently from a somewhat different incarnation of the group and is a Monty Stark composition - not one of the Hoagy Carmichael reinterpretations that made up the original version of the album. It has a naive, off-kilter, beautiful, and bizarre sound that I just love.
It's upbeat psych-jazz with extremely awkward cheery lead vocals. Stark's phrasing is kinda off (and his voice is WAY off) - it basically sounds like an easy listening number gone terribly wrong - but in a really good way.
Although Buck's "ragged old man" routine can be charming, it usually comes off feeling more like a Tom Waits rip-off than a Tom Waits homage. "Sore" is my favorite track on "Talkin' Honky Blues" because it does away with the overly-cute oddball beat poetry that Buck often indugles in and offers a more sincere and unaffected portrayal of the wayfaring nomad / poor white trucker.
Buck's in a one horse town with a broken down pick-up, left to set up shop in a shoddy motel and reflect on his life. The lyrics are country gold all rapped up pretty: "I'm drawn to familiar environments and dangers / I look in my photo albums and all I see is strangers / What is my problem?"
I'm a sucker for good desolation-hop (unfortunately for me, there isn't much out there), and "Sore" fits the bill perfectly.
"Spin, Spin, Spin" is a graceful and romantic folk song which Callier sings with a smirk - almost as if he's in on a secret joke. His guitar phrasing is pitch perfect and his voice is both rich and subtle. HP Lovecraft covered this tune as a string-heavy psych-lite track on "HP Lovecraft II," but I prefer this original rendition's low-key and unpretentious acoustic charm.