The Sound of Urchin
You Are the Best
Wow. It’s not even 2002 as I write this, and I’ve already found my Guilty Pleasure Album of the year.
On paper, I hate these guys. Four white dudes with fake-rap names (Tomato 11, Reverend B. Ill, Hollywood Scotty Choc, and Doo Doo Brown) doing rap-metal with a “positive” twist. Eeesh: plenty to hate right there. Oh, and they’re proteges of Ween, which isn’t exactly a recommendation in my book. I’m not hatin’ on Ween, I’m just saying that they produce the same kind of teeth-grinding yucky feeling that Sparks always used to when I was in high school. Bleah. And when I heard that The Sound of Urchin was kind of discovered by Ween, I wrote them off immediately.
That is, until I heard the first song. “Zen Magic Marker,” which opens You Are the Best, is a great little song that strives to make no sense whatsoever and achieves its goal perfectly. It’s a stream-of-consciousness drawl with a loping reggae beat and a hearty sense of the absurd: “Volcano / President / Lava flowing on the residents / Pompeii / Stone people / Pink Floyd rockin’ the world.” And it never mentions Zen or magic markers. This is my kind of album opener.
Okay, so the next song, “Rock and Roll Jubilee,” kind of personifies everything wrong with The Sound of Urchin in Tomato 11’s lame inane rap (“I got on a bus and I dropped some change / Dude picks it up and says ‘Have a nice day’ / I said ‘Thanks.’ Man, this dude was friendly / I then ran into my girl called Wendy“). But there’s still so much goodness left over from “Zen Magic Marker” that you can get all the way to the kinda rockin’ chorus without throwing up. Before you know it, you’re bobbing your head to this crappy song, and it doesn’t sound too crappy anymore.
They work this magic time and again on this album. “Billy The Eagle” sounds like a direct rip from Check Your Head, but it gains many points for actually being about an eagle named Billy. I think. Doesn’t matter. “The Millipede/Who’ll Stop the Beggar” is some good power-punk, and “Space Station on the 4, 5, & 6” is really funny, with its tale about Steven Tyler and Joe Perry working at some fleabag downtown hotel, and “Alligator Swamp” has some dub fire to it, and “The Alligator” is a goofy but sweet happy-vibe soft-rock thing (what is it with alligators and these guys?)… and it’s just a nice little fun album.
The fact that I like this album means that I should probably be disqualified from being a “critic” forever, but I don’t care. It’s fun and nice and happy and that sounds good right about now to me. Screw being a critic — I’m too busy lovin’ on this album.
The Sound of Urchin: http://www.soundofurchin.com