Sunday, April 06, 2008

Slim Cessna's Auto Club: Cipher

A new Slim Cessna album is a real EVENT. Unfortunately, that's partially because they release new material WAY too infrequently for my tastes, but it's also because they have a strong tendency--to use the technical term--to rock the hizzouse, and Cipher is no exception.

Then again, maybe we should be thankful that they take their sweet time about recording. It's obvious that everything about this record is carefully planned out. The CD case--appropriately--is covered with symbols that are apparently part of some secret code; I don't really have the inclination to try to decipher it, but no doubt there's some sort of secret message there for the diligent. The sound itself is musically unified but still diverse enough to keep things interesting. Thematically, it is defined by the four brief "Introduction to the Power of Braces" tracks, which are all about how twisted and bent humanity is and how it needs to be forced straight. It's a conception not unlike that of the Confucian philosopher Hsun Tzu, to make a totally incongruous connection.

But don't think this is all in deadly earnest--this ain't 16 Horsepower. There's also a lot of japery here. How much seriousness can you expect, after all, from a song entitled "That Fierce Cow Is Common Sense in a Country Dress" (sounds like some sort of mnemonic device--some old horse caught a horse taking oats away, anyone?). Also, this album emphasizes the interplay between Slim and Munly--always a highlight of the band's live shows--more than ever before. It's pretty funny and pretty great. Cessna/Munly are the Lennon/McCartney of doom-laden, backwoods alt-country/punk/gospel. There, I said it.

But how does it actually SOUND? you ask. You're so demanding sometimes. Well, it has a heavier sound than the band's previous work; at first I did not care for that, but it grew on me fast enough. The song-writing also reflects this, in a good way. "Your speakers--and your mind--will BURN!" claims their website, and this may well be the case. Not every song is great (the "Braces" numbers, in particular, are more interesting conceptually than they are musically), but enough of them are. "Children of the Lord" takes the chorus from the kids' song about Noah's Ark and couples it with verses about how we're all pretty much hellbound, to rousing effect. "Magalina Hagalina Boom Boom" features great vocal tradeoffs between Slim and Munly. The aforementioned "That Fierce Cow" (don't ask what that's supposed to mean--I couldn't even begin to tell you) is good times. "Ladies in the Know"--previously featured on the live album Jesus Let Me Down--is fast-paced and fun. And there's plenty more to like.

Yes, I was iffy about this album at first. But now I pretty much can't stop listening to it. Perhaps you will have a similar experience.


Anonymous Anonymous pontificated to the effect that...

I saw them last sunday on Granada. Now I canĀ“t stop listening that album... in my head! I hear Slim and Munly mumbling in my dreams! What the hell can I do???

4:59 PM  

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