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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 117 - 04/13/06

East River Pipe
What Are You on?

In opener "What Does TS Elliot Know About You?", esoteric/artsy/new age type people are called out when ERP provides the answer to his title's question: "nothing in particular, but you always talk like he do". I dunno, it seems like he's missing a bigger point about what T.S. Elliot might know about humanity, but I refuse to get into a spacy argument with a Merge CD.

The singing here at first sounds a little forced and nasaly, but that feeling seems to go away once you get used to the voice. The band sound kind of wavers between extremes: so thin it's hard to take seriously and major-label lush. One thing that starts to bother me as I get into the meat of this album, is that I feel more than a little let down with these melodies. There's a sense that ERP doesn't really take himself that seriously. And that's usually a good thing, but here it doesn't make the best first impression. Like the kind-of-nasal voice though, this is something that the listener eventually gets used to. But I can see a lot of people not giving the album even that much of a chance.

"I'll Walk My Robot Home" is a song that almost catches you, but first impressions again fall short. Continuing on with the album, I begin to wonder exactly what the best situation to play this music would be. Certainly its worth listening to critically, but there's just not enough here to really catch, for instance, guests or friends or something. For a more important function, I'd be much more likely to put on ERP influencial material such as Neutral Milk Hotel or Guided by Voices. Or if I wanted something to match ERP's homeless-guy flavor (the brain behind ERP was drug-addled and homeless for a number of years, according to press), I might throw on June Panic or that unlistenable visionary Wesley Willis.

So this is an album that I'd recommend you hear, especially if you're a Merge Record fan, you review records, or if you're a recovering drug addict. Most of these songs are about drugs (a deeply-layered subject, I'll admit). There's nothing sentimental or cliche about this sound. But I don't see anything all that extraordinary here either, especially in the way of melody. East River Pipe would certainly be something to support live, though, if you happen to see a flyer for him.

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