Week 24 Review (End of Summer Blow Up 3)

As I cross over the midpoint of EoSBU, I’m reviewing an album from perhaps the greatest musician of my generation, James Dewees.  More specifically, his Kickstarter album, No Country for Old Musicians.         

Artist: Reggie and the Full Effect {James Dewees aka Floppy Disk-0 aka Fluxuation aka Klaus of Common Denominator}
Album: No Country for Old Musicians
Year: 2013
Genre: Too Many to Count
Rating: (Infinity + 1)/5

Worth Your Time? I consider it a “Listen to Before You Die” album.

Twitter Review: J. Dewees transforms the elegant chaos of entropy into music with NCFOM. An extended range of emotions and genres make for a unique experience.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Who Needs Another Drink?
  2. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Ralph’s
  3. 37

Things to Look For:

  • The Perfect Song. I know that’s a bold statement but I think I could listen to this song on repeat for an entire day and not get the least bit tired of it. I could possibly even go all week and do the first ever (and last) Project Lt. Morning review on a single track. I was madly in love with this song from the second it started with a man expressing his undying love for the 1992 Royal Rumble in Albany, New York where Nature Boy Ric Flair takes down…someone. Sadly, our wrestling fanatic is rudely interrupted before he could finish. But his enthusiasm isn’t the least bit dampened as the song which is more infectious than any STD known to mankind, Who Needs Another Drink?, begins. Floppy Disk-0 aka James is on the top of his game with this song. The lyrics are simple but insanely memorable. I loved singing the chorus in a nasally voice as loud as I could in my car during my daily commute. His other two interludes involving a discussion of smoking PCP and what I can only infer is Last Call at a Kindergarten classroom only add to appeal of the song. I know I am not alone in my love for this song as my friend informed me that the crowd went ballistic when this song started at the concert he attended. Like getting up on stage and dancing ballistic. Just imagining that makes me smile.
  • Ending on a High Note. One thing I noticed on the album that several of the songs have a short comedic bit at the end. In Guerrera, the song is about a brave Aztec warrior and his pet hawk who are traded by the Aztec empire to a group of aliens in exchange for the aliens not blowing up the empire. The aliens need his hero skills to fight other aliens. Pretty fair deal, no? Actually, this song has the fantastic line of “Stronger than one thousand spears that’s pretty strong if you ask me” which is extra hilarious because up to that point the song has a very serious tone. But as the drum beats start to wind down, the ending tops that when James shouts “Anybody see my bird?” which is then followed quickly by a  majestic hawk vocalization and a very short “Oh.” This brief moment of joy occurs again at the end of DMV where he is singing as Klaus, frontman of Finnish metal band Common Denominator.  Driving, Me, Victory at DMV also contains one of my favorite verse from the album “What are you looking at lady behind glass? My social security is I can kick your ass, For the last time so I can make it clear, A record of my birth is I’m standing right here.” The Department of Motor Vehicles has never sounded so metal.
  • Emotions. James is absolutely incredible at conveying a wide variety of emotions with pinpoint precision with his voice. The lighthearted silliness of 37 and We Make a Breakfast is such a stark contrast to his voice in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Ralph’s which is very melancholy. Take it even further on the sadness spectrum and you end up with Disregard where you can’t help but be reminded of your own feelings of despair as a relationship collapses right underneath your feet. I haven’t even touched on the songs where he is doing characters, which just further illustrates his versatility.
  • Best Break Ever. In Sundae, Booty Sundae, where James plays the part of electropop sensation Fluxuation, there is quite possibly the greatest keyboard break in a song ever recorded. It’s so freaking incredibly catchy. I think I bobbed my head every single time it came on. And I always did it in this figure 8 motion. Not sure why but it felt right. Dewees is the King of Keyboard, the Sultan of Synthesizers, the Colonel of Composition, the Emperor of Electronic Musical Devices, the… you get the point. The man can write a melody like no other.

Low Points: This isn’t a low point for me really because I consider it genius more than anything but I think at first listen the album is probably confusing to the newcomer. The album does contain a song in which James says the word “chicken” over and over and over…and over. But if you saw the video for the Kickstarter page that was used to fund this album, it makes complete sense. Even the title is kind of weird. But once you know that he composed the album while living in an apartment in N. Hollywood and felt like he couldn’t relate to the 20-somethings in his building as a 36 year old, it also makes perfect sense. The song, To the Fruit Wizards of Donnington, is about James getting hit by apples thrown by wizards. Well, it’s actually based on a real situation in which he playing at a music festival and a group of metal fans with some long beards started throwing stuff on the stage. Unfortunate but not so weird anymore, right? The song, Gimme Back My Leg, which might seem strange to write a song about your dog humping your leg is actually a touching tribute to his bulldog, talullah, who died while James was working on the album. Finally, anybody that doesn’t know that James includes a variety of alter egos in his albums is also going to be confused but I couldn’t imagine the albums without them. They do so much to make a Reggie album what it is.

Anything Else: James has been described as your artist’s favorite artist. And I have no doubt that this is true. The eclectic collection of compositions on this album just blow my mind as a music nerd and I probably left out at least a dozen other lyrics I’m dying to tell you about. But proof that other artists recognize his mad skills is Dewees was touring keyboardist for My Chemical Romance. So if you’ve ever seen them live, there’s a good chance you’ve heard Dewees and didn’t even know it. And a whole ton of musicians have served as part of his touring band. I imagine it’s because it’s so freaking fun to play James’ material and because he is such an awesome guy.

I’d like to close with probably the biggest mistake of my life. Out of all the Kickstarter projects I regret most , it is not the many that have failed after 12+ months of waiting but the one that I didn’t back that was an absolute success in every sense of the word. I’m sorry, James Dewees, for not backing this album. If you want to make another album though Kickstarter, I will gladly back it. Maybe even enough to get a sweet hoodie or something this time.

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