Taking a break from Jellyfish for a minute, this is a first for me: endorsing a brand-new artist's brand-new album. But I must say that this Ben Sommer is rather an interesting cat. If the measure of a good album is the desire to listen to it five times in a row without blinking, then this is 34 minutes of pure "edgy, political prog rock" goodness -- maybe, I daresay, even greatness.
The plentiful nods to Rush, Yes, the Who, Van Halen and especially Zappa -- sometimes in the same song -- are as whimsical and witty as they are utterly unsubtle. I'm all for unsubtle, in case you haven't noticed. The playing, production and arrangement, down to the harmony vocals, are top-notch.
And if you never thought you could sing along to choruses that go "Itchy-kitchy-kitchy-koo, waah-waah!" and "Thread-count fetish, thread-count fetish, oh-whoa-oh...," then all I can say is, think again. This political prog rock is brainy and complex stuff, sure, but it's also catchy as hell. Even the obligatory rap parody, "Kill the Estrogen Queens," brings some serious Funkadelic flava. Some listeners might find it offensive, but speaking as someone who believes that over the past 15 years or so hip-hop has mutated into an unkillable cancer on popular culture, you'll hear no such complaints from me...
Even after multiple listens it's tough for me to tell where exactly the satirical Mr. Sommer places himself on the political spectrum, which I'm quite sure is the point. When he sings about Henry Kissinger, based on the funny lyrics he sounds as if he's aware of the fact -- not widely believed, apparently, but a fact nonetheless -- that Kissinger is a vile pig of a war criminal on whose orders a million people were slaughtered for no reason. But I couldn't tell you for sure! As a dug-in Repuglican hater -- yes, I did say hater, and I mean that shit too -- I'd be damn curious to find out where Mr. Sommer's head is really at. Maybe next album?
He's an educated East Coaster, which makes him a homeboy to me and an enemy to the GOP. On his website Mr. Sommer teasingly IDs himself as "libertarian," but the definition thereof has always struck me as spongy at best, especially these days. At least half of the Tea Party psychos call themselves "libertarians," yet last November these "fiercely independent" yahoos happily voted in the same breed of assholic country club Repuglican that drove this country into the shitter in the first place. (John Boehner thanks you all, by the way.)
Anyway! Good times.
So, to grab America'd, head to the below link to DL the individual tracks, or -- why not? Trust me! -- actually buy the album in exciting new Compact Disc format.
You'll be damn glad you did, America!
America'd - 2011