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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive

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Atom And His Package
Attention! Blah Blah Blah

"Funny" music is so rarely actually funny, but there can be no denying the genius of Atom Goren's early work. Basically, Atom is a fat and very clever dork who turned down a promising career as a high school biology teacher to form a one-man parody of a punk band (the "Package" is actually a big pile of cheap-sounding electronics). Over insistent, catchy, and peppy synthesizer, Atom sings songs with ridiculous lyrics. Like the one saluting former Judas Priest howler Rob Halford for being gay and out of the closet in the homophobic world of metal. And then there's the big protest songs about how America needs to adopt the metric system right now!

This may sound sketchy on paper, but it helps that Atom's lyrics are legitimately clever; on a song about Norwegian black metal, he sings, "Black metal: it's not exactly like Living Colour." It also helps that Atom's high-pitched nasal whine is a perfect natural simulacrum of other punk rock nasal whines, most notably the whine belonging to Fat Mike of NOFX. The backing music may be dinky, cheesy electronics, but Atom has a way with a maddeningly sticky melody. His ironic covers (Fugazi, Madonna, Misfits, Geto Boys) are done with such conviction that they may not even be ironic. And perhaps the funniest part of the whole affair is that Atom plays actual punk shows: all-ages hardcore matinees, VFW halls, your parents' basement. If you aren't having fun just thinking about this guy, I do not want to be your friend.

Atom's previous album, Redefining Music, was as funny as his previous ones, but it was also a huge leap forward. The songs were even catchier, and he actually managed to get serious on a few tracks, with surprisingly great results; it particularly gets me when one of his guest vocalists sings, "What do you think is in store for us?/ Is it living room furniture terminus?" Redefining Music was a wonderful, criminally overlooked record, and its triumph is part of what makes Attention! Blah Blah Blah so disappointing.

Inside jokes between Atom and his friends have always provided some of his lyrical inspiration, as on the live favorite "Shopping Spree." But on Attention!, they completely take over his work. Most of the songs are slight, ridiculous little letters addressed by name to people he knows, like the song pleading with one friend to stop smoking, or the one about him and his roommates doing restoration work on their house. For anyone not personally acquainted with Atom, these songs are boring and obnoxious. Every song comes with a written explanation of the lyrics in the liner notes, but he doesn't include a note on why he even bothered to make this album. And his butt-ugly drawings in the liner notes don't help matters.

Even the lyrics not addressed to his friends lack the sarcastic snap of his best work. For instance "Head With Arms" is about how much he likes the octopus; who cares? And "The Palestinians Are Not the Same Thing as the Rebel Alliance, Jackass" has a promising title, but the song itself is an embarrassingly humorless rant. The music is catchy and endearing as always, but Atom's loss of lyrical focus is a sad, sad thing.

by Tom Breihan

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