|Preconceived Notions: None….although CGR was kind enough to throw Van Winkle’s name around-that could mean anything.
After Listening: I’m literally re-listening at this point, as I type b/c I’m trying to take it in. There’s just a lot here, in its finer moments it has a touch of almost Zappa-esque composition (Zappa’s more consonant stuff like Hot rats)-but I think you can fine a lot of artists “in here” if you try. Banjo, vibraphone, trumpet with mute(!!) and various instruments major props for all of that. I’m 50/50 on the voice and also the lyrics, however I like that the vocals and the orchestration are ambitious. The album sort of degenerates into wandering from like track 13 to 18 or so. It’s in these pieces that I think maybe he just felt obligated to make the album more thematic and longer. He should’ve stop after 12, and as a result the quality suffers afterward.
Favorite Tracks: “’I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!’ – That’s the title for this thing. An odd little theme….but there’s so much going on orchestration wise it’s worth actually picking a side so I did.
“Come on Feel the Illinosie” – some rhythmic elements here at 1st seem corny, but then it blends into this cacophony of piano, horns, and guitar….which lend comes right back through to this steady pulsing pace.
“They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!” Mainly because it brings back the album to life after a swoon, but also for the string use and the almost funk bass.
Least Favorite Tracks: “”The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!” – This to me is the downside of the album, it’s sort of an indulgent piece that sounds like any old folk artist and is indicative of how the latter part of the album sags.
Overall: 3.7 Good orchestra, excellent style blends – pop, folk, a touch of avant garde-a smidge of indi rock, an ambitious project that doesn’t really settle for less until you get way into it. Seems like the talent is there for something really, really special is there. This isn’t quite it….but it is a record that may grow on me, and develop.