Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
Bob Dinners and Larry Noodles present Tubby Turdner’s Celebrity Avalanche
The Communion Label
So what’s all this blather about Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 being “difficult” or “arty”? What a bum rap! Besides some unwieldy album titles and grand lyrical conceptualizin’, these boys and girls are purveying some fine, fine sugary pop on a par with The Residents’ Commercial Album and Moving On Up by Half-Japanese. The best pop music is not done by Stridex spokesmodels or Mickey Mouse Club burnouts; the best pop is done by eccentric loners and mad-eyed cranks. Insert your own Joe Meek reference right here. Insert your own perfect guitar riff right here. Oh wait, Thinking Fellers already did that for me, banging out a tinny, trashy riff on “Sunday Surprise,” complemented well by woozy lead work and syrupy choral vocals. And then to follow it up with the saccharine jackboot stomp of “Sno Cone” with that falsetto “trigger, trigger, trigger” chorus, and everyone’s vocals spilling all over each other and staining like goddamn grape juice. Or how about the taut and lean “You in a Movie,” an entertaining fusion of The Pixies, Barnes & Barnes, and Pavement, if there ever was one? And “’91 Dodge Van” is a lost jangle-pop masterpiece, putting to bed Madder Rose and Helium in under two minutes. Sure, they have their “inaccessible” moments, like the extended dynamics-on-a-hot-tin-roof tale of “Holy Ghost.” And maybe Beck even used a time machine to steal the Muppets-esque falsettos and croaks from shambolic “In the Stars I Can Sizzle Like a Battery.” It’s the highest high point of the record. But in the end, they can balance out the arty and the bastard-rocky with hushed laments like “Everything Is Possible,” and the delicate, spidery siren-voiced “El Cerrito.” And you know a band is feeling their creative oats when they close a record with the cut-and-paste Fisher-Price prog freakout of “The Barker,” and the long lonely fade-out of “He Keeps Himself Fed.” Frazzled instruments and some great understated vocal performances, both male and female. Don’t let the label fool ya. It’s pppppop!
The Communion Label, 2745 16th Street, The diChristina Building, San Francisco, CA 94103