German Cars Vs American Homes
German Cars Vs American Homes
He has a bad haircut, two different kinds of epilepsy and a penchant for writing inscrutable lyrics. Since Mr. Call and his band’s level of seriousness is often indecipherable, GCvAM are not easily described. Sonically, they run the gamut from the herky-jerk of Devo to the careening funk of Fishbone, to the cosmic jazz stylings of the late Frank Zappa.
And like Zappa or the Talking Heads, GCvAH mine their surroundings for the absurdities of social pretense, rearranging pop and youth culture into something that is both comical and angst-ridden. german cars vs American homes are sensitive artistes. The band even wears this mindset on the sleeve of their latest CD, One in a Million (Mishap) - their first full-length album after a series of EP’s. The cover is a faux scratch-’n’-win Lotto card that includes the directions: “Think you’re special? One in a million? GERMAN CARS VS.
AMERICAN HOMES think otherwise.” Of the 16 songs on the album, about half have lyrics directed at an invisible “you,” a seeming extension of Mr. Call’s warped yet observant perceptions of his social constraints as a high-school outcast, a failing acting student, or a participant in the NYU pseudo-artist party scene in Williamsburg and downtown Manhattan. When he’s not railing against you, Mr. Call seems to be singing about himself. And on one track, “Vacuum” - a GCvAH staple that has appeared on two previous releases - the first and second-person references meet in Mr.
Call’s listless world: “I read a classic book, / They say it’s worth a look, / I sing a pretty song, / I sing it all life long,” Mr. Call raps in his bored-art-student voice over synthesized Farfisa and bass sounds. “You think it’s vacuous, / It cleans up the mess, / I hear the TV’s on, / I’ve got my clothing on / V-A-C-U-U-M, / I’m in a vacuum, / You know you suck me up / V-A-C-U-U-M.” The soundtrack backing Mr. Call’s lyrical neuroses is appropriately off-kilter.
GCvAH’s instrumentation is as unusual as the mix of characters who play the individual parts. The band’s bizarre rock sound is driven by two synth-itars--keyboard synthesizers with guitar-like headstocks that the band Devo made famous in the early 80’s--played by Mr. Call and Greg Travis, who’s a computer programmer by day. Behind them, acting student Peter Hale plays a standard rock drum kit alongside former thespian Holt Richardson, who trades beats on his electronic drum pads and cymbals.
Mr. Richardson also occasionally sings lead with Mr. Call. Sanford Livingston and Phil Lojerfo--who recently left the band, changed his name to the Pluto Nash-like Sketch Jupiter and moved to Amsterdam--round out GCvAH on, respectively, bass/cello and guitar.
(Spencer Chakedis, who produced One in a Million, has since taken Mr. Lojerfo’s place.) The resulting sound proves an ideal fit for Mr. Call’s disaffected lyrics, although it’s not exactly accessible. But like adolescent cigarette-smoking, once you get over the initial distaste, addiction’s just a few steps away--and hey, it’s the cool thing to do.
-Ben Chace, New York Observer Takin from http://www.kickemwhiletheyredown.net/gcvah/press.shtml Added By nAte James Call has also performed a lot solo and is currently going back to his "more-electronic" roots with the Missing Teens project. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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