Friday, June 26, 2009

Why There's No Money in My 401(k): A Diary of Obsessive Materialism Vol. IV

In an effort to fulfill some bizarre need in my life, I purchase a lot of CDs, both old and new. They are obsessively cataloged and organized and poured over track by track (Seriously, it's obsessive. It involves post-it notes and code and excel spreadsheets). It is truly a labor of love (and an unhealthy psychological imperative). But, since I am consuming so much music, I thought I could use this constant influx for the powers of good. Should I come across anything worth sharing (either a new release or an old favorite), I will share them with you. So you'll love me.

Chain and the Gang — Down with Liberty...Up with Chains! (K)
Somewhere, in a dark basement laboratory, a team of scientists is doing unspeakable experiments with the DNA of Calvin Johnson, Lou Reed, and a team of fiery Baptist preachers. This experiment, an affront to God himself, has boiled down Calvin Johnson's DIY lefty leanings and basement stomp, Lou Reed's legendary cool and perfect backroom rock and roll, and mixed them all up with the suit-wearing, sweaty energy of Baptist churches in the south. The product of these sinful scientific dealings is the debut album by Chain and the Gang, the newest project of ex-Nation of Ulysses/Make Up frontman Ian Svenonius, who has taken a break from hosting internet talk-shows and writing books to front another amazing band.
The "premise" of the project stems from the observation that "the spread of liberty has been detrimental to the world. Everywhere liberty goes, it leaves a path of destruction. Fast food, bad architecture, militarism, rampant greed, environmental destruction, imperial conquest, class struggle; these phenomena, when combined, seem to be synonymous with 'Liberty.'" Fortunately, these politics are delivered with a tongue-in-cheek snarkiness and revival tent faux-gospel so the message, while not exactly buried, is rather snuggled up comfortably under several quilts of "gettin' down." Those looking for screeds will be sorely disappointed, but anyone familiar with Svenonius's most recent work, including a Little Red Book-resembling tome of satirical essays on rock-and-roll-as-ethos will expect the joke. Songs like "Reparations," a stone-cold gospel-rock jam about wanting restitution from bad radio and failed institutions, is the perfect example of the Chain and the Gang mission: soft politics/indie defiance that gets sidelined by the need to get down.


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