Review: This One's For The Fellows

This was written track-by-track as I first listened to This One’s for the Fellows: A Sonic Salute to The Young Fresh Fellows, a Young Fresh Fellows tribute album.  Some of the things are kinda funny — considering that I didn’t really listen much to Robyn Hitchcock at the time, and now I’ve got almost all of his albums.  The reference to the YFF Tribute Show was the CD release party, where most of the acts on the CD played a few YFF songs live.  It was a pretty great, show, actually.  The album came out from BlueDisguise records.  Given the nature of the piece, though, it’s pretty much un-edited.


*Presidents of the United States of America– Rock’n’ Roll Pest Control: Starts with the same tape that rolled at the YFF Tribute Show. So in case you were wondering what it sounded like, just pick up the CD. Also, pretty close to how the live version was. Which is awesome, because that ruled, and so does this. It’s a bit fuller, though. And Chris Ballew’s doing a bit more nuance in the vocals since he doesn’t have to shout at a concert.

The Silos – Love Is A Beautiful Thing – This is one of my favorites from Low Beat Time. Pretty cool arrangement, pretty close to the original though, and I don’t really like the vocals. And they kind of de-DEVO’d the background vox. Which was one of my favorite bits with the original.

Eric Kassel – How Much About Last Night Do You Remember – Ooh, cool organ in the beginning. The distortion on the vocals is kinda cool, and I like his voice better. Pretty faithful to the original, a bit lower-fi, but not bad sounding. Good.

*Robyn Hitchcock- Mamie Dunn/Good Times Rock ‘n’ Roll – Acoustic so far. Heh, I know it’s weird to say this, but Robyn Hitchcock’s voice sorta reminds me of Joe Jack from the Dead Milkmen. (That’s a compliment.) I like that it’s a pretty drastic re-arrangement. These are typically my favorites (and also potentially my least favorites…) on tribute albums. At any rate, they stick out way more than the faithful ones. Heheh, the segue rules. This is really slick. I should probably check out more of Hitchcock’s stuff, really. And in case you were wondering, he didn’t change the lyrics on Good Times to make it any less being-on-tour-with-the-Presidents-and-Su

perDeluxe-centric. I like that. Ooh, spoken bit! SCOTT! KURT! JIM! AND TAD! bhahhaah, the ending RULES. I will not spoil it.

*The Maroons w/ Steve Malkmus – No One Really Knows – Really nice vocals on this. I think it’s got a faster tempo than the original. A little low-fi, and sort of demo-sounding on the Piano, but that’s not really a bad thing. Nice effect. The mixing makes it sound like it was recorded in a tiny room with you at the center and they’re all crowding around you, playing. Like, say, in a walk-in closet or something. You can hear them sort of stretching around you to properly play the instruments. It’s a wonder they got the piano in here. I suppose it’s probably sort of half out the window, or maybe they had to knock out a bit of the wall.

Carla Torgerson & Amy Stolzenbach – Lost Track of Time – I love the original of this song. It’s one of my favorites of Kurt’s. Really sort of… odd vocals. I’m not sure if I like them, but I don’t think I dislike them either. I kinda like the found sounds, too. It’s kind of a nice touch. And the multi-tracked backing vocals do work, even if I’m sort of iffy on the lead. (Which is odd, since the liners say it’s the same person, heh.) But Kurt’s a magnificent songwriter, really. (Of course, so are the rest of them. All the Fellows are ninja at songwritin’ and playin’ and everything.)

Comb*Over – Get Outta My Cave – A bit harder sounding. I don’t really like the vocals on this one. I know Dale hated them live. And Ben seemed to like them. The guitar on it is pretty well-done though, especially on the chorus. I dunno. It’s OK, but… it’s sort of bland. Smokin’ Guitar Solo.

*Visqueen – Still There’s Hope – This is another one of those songs I get stuck in my head all the time. Oooh. I didn’t really like Rachel’s vocals at the show when she was with the Black Panties, but on this, she’s singing pretty well. I’m actually digging this one pretty well. It’s a really straightforward arrangement. I’m not sure who this reminds me of, but someone. I am tempted to say Anna Waronker a little bit, but it’s not like really A Lot like her, so… yeah. Anyway, though, this is pretty keen.

The Figgs – This One’s For The Ladies – Odd choice of songs to cover, since TOFTL was sort of a joke track to open the album. (Which of course, goes to show how good the Fellows are when even their joke tracks kick this much ass.) Odd arrangement. Really odd drum sound on it. I’m thinking it’s a rhythm box, but it’s credited as drums in the liners, so maybe they just tweaked the hell out of the EQ or something, since there’s also a weird sort of live sound as well. Perhaps they’re doing the Wall of Voodoo deal of having a rhythm box as well as a real drummer. A bit long. Pretty good, though. Interesting, at the very least, but not in a “Well… it’s… interesting” way, but in a, y’know, complimentary sort.

*John Ramberg & Christy McWilson – Celebration – Really nice and pleasant and laid-back. Sort of like the Minus 5 doing a YFF cover. (Gee, I wonder why this would be. Hm… I suppose some mysteries of life were never meant to be solved.) And it’s got a Pedal Steel. Bonus points for that. I like the sort of country feel of it, but I always liked it when both the YFF and the Minus 5 went into the whole Country Sound.

Johnny Sangster – Unimaginable Zero Summer – Speaking of country sound… This one takes the original and turns the country knob from 10 up a few more notches. Or just has the engineers make “10” more country-y. Has sort of a demo-y sound to it. The piano bit’s pretty cool. Heh, the past two songs make me think it would have been awesome if they got Laura Cantrell on the tribute, but I think part of that is just my adoration of Laura Cantrell, and the fact that she can always add like 500 cool points to most anything. Even something just about at the Limit Of Cool. And I’d kinda like to hear her do some of the Fellows songs. I think some of them would work pretty well with her, and I assume she knows of them, what with knowing John Flansburgh and all.

The Mendoza Line – Deep Down & In-Between – Wow, even more Country. I like the vocals on this one too. Although I don’t like the male backing vocals as much. This kind of stuff makes me think that Scott could always have a secondary career if he wanted it as a country songwriter. (Well, if pop-country was actually doing, y’know, Real Country Type Stuff anymore, instead of the Pop Shania Twain Bullshit. Goddammit. Since this is about the YFF, I won’t go into how much Real Country Rules and how Pop Country Sucks Nowadays, but, rest assured it does. But… yeah. Scott’s hell of good at writing this sort of stuff.)

I Can Lick Any SOB In The House – Hillbilly Drummer Girl – I dug these guys live, and they’re probably going to turn out to be the bridge back to rock, since they’re pretty much in the Country Rock Bar Band Sound. So I figure the next band will probably be pretty rockin’. They’re not quite as fun on the record, but live, they were really pretty rules. And this song is one of my favorites. And it’s kinda cool they didn’t just get the Mono Puff version, since, even thought he Mono Puff version is _SO GOOD_, it’s always cool when you have tributes where everyone records something for it instead of just pulling something out of their back catalog. (I’ve seen that occasionally on tribute albums, where they’re all like “Oh, well, so-and-so covered this song, why don’t we just write and see if they’ll let us put it on this disc.” And that’s always struck me as a little weak, but hey.) Anyway, though, yeah, Hillbilly Drummer Girl has a really cool riff. One thing, though is that I wish they had slowed down the final verse like the YFF do.. that verse is really pretty and had sort of an odd quality to it that sets it off from the rest of the song that really sort of needs to be set-off musically. It’s got sort of a wider scope. It’s pulling back and showing us how important the HBDG is In The Grand Unified Scheme Of Things, rather than just tellin’ us about her activities of wakin’ up in the drunk tank and getting money for new sticks? Y’know? I hope so, because the next song just started. And I’m actually kinda behind now.

*Emily Bishton & Conrad Uno – Take My Brain Away/Teenage Dogs in Trouble – Uh, sorry catchin’ up, cool intro, much slower, and this is better than it was live, I think. Emily’s voice is a bit more controlled and on. At first I didn’t care for this as much live, but on the record it’s much better. And this arrangement really heightens the prettyness of the song. And I was kinda wrong when I was talkin’ about how I Can Lick Any SOB’s track was going to be the segue because I forgot which song was next, especially with my derailings and stuff that made me get a bit behind, but at least I’m still on the Take My Brain Away part so I think I can catch up, which is good, because, erm, otherwise it’d just be sorta weird, with me writing about stuff 2 songs behind or somethin’. Anyway, though, yeah. This is pretty keen. Ooh, the arrangement on Teenage Dogs is keeeen. MAN. I suppose the only person who’d know these songs more than the Fellows themselves is Conrad Uno, since he produced most of them, so… yeah. It really shows the way he pulled it apart and put it back together. Really keen. And the segue ruled too. This is really stand-out.

Black Panties – Rotation – There’s a comment on the tribute album site about how you can’t go back and how you should have put “Rotation” on your Best Of 1989 Mix Tape, which I really agree with, since it’s sort of a forgotten song that’s a really kickass standout on This One’s For The Ladies. So, uh, yeah. I know I didn’t like the Black Panties live at all, although I think that’s just me, since everyone else seemed to. But.. yeah. I still don’t like t
hem. Ugh. This song is so good, too. Erm. I don’t dig this. But, well, one bad track out of 15 so far? Not bad. And you can still tell that the song is strong. But… urgh. I do not like the band. Sorry. Heh, I got Cheers on on mute in the background and Rebecca just hit her head on a lamp.

Louden Swain – Telephone Tree – Erm. Not a fan of the vocals on this one either. Erm. Pretty good arrangement. Pretty close to the Fellows’, but a bit harder. But the vocals are sort of.. I don’t know… not really fitting. The track’s OK, though.

*Marshall Artist – I Lose Control – Heh, I kinda like the vocals on this one. I’m actually getting into this one. Straightforward arrangement. Ooh, pretty cool solo. I enjoy this one.

Groovie Ghoulies – 99 Girls – Another standout from Low Beat Time. They sped it up a bit, and it kinda sounds sort of more like a Pop-punk kind of sound. I think this kinda hurt the song, though, since it really works well as a Stomp. And the guitars are mixed a little quiet, but.. yeah. I don’t know. It’s an OK try, and it doesn’t suck or anything, but the original is way better.

*Charlie Chesterman & The Legendary Motorbikes – I Hate Everything – I dig this one too. So much that I don’t really want to write anything and just want to listen to the track. So I think I will.

The Makers – Don’t You Wonder How It Ends – Cool intro. Ooh, really slowed down, with all sorts of backwards stuff. What’s up with the vocal performance though? He’ss soundin’ really… weird. In a way I can’t really put my finger on. The arrangement’s pretty damned awesome, though. And this has always been a really pretty song, too. The Fellows (and Minus 5) are _REALLY_ good at the really pretty songs. Which you wouldn’t necessarily expect since they’re so good at Rockin’, and with most people it seems to be an Either/Or Proposition, but not so with Scott, Kurt, Tad, Jim and Chuck. I don’t know, if they had a different vocalist, this’d be one of the best tracks on the album, but the vocalist is so… not-fitting it doesn’t… really gel all the way. Which is sad.

*Scott McCaughey & The Mono Men – Teenage Dogs In Trouble – This is keen, but it’s Scott, so, um, _duh_. I don’t really have much else to add. It’s really rockin’. Sort of full. Scott’s mixed down a little, though. But that’s OK, because the guitars are rather loud. So, there you go.

Anyway, pretty keen tribute album. If you haven’t got it for some reason, totally pick it up. Totally. And if you get it through the label, I think they might throw in a button! So you can’t go wrong with that.


*Stand Out Tracks.

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