The Blue Cafe
Monday, May 15
Though we hadn't planned on writing about Peepshot again—can't we just go someplace and enjoy ourselves without having to whip out our notebook?—it seems that this could-they-possibly-get-any-greater, alterna-country-but-more-alterna-than-country band is now employing the Unstoppable Superhero Keyboard Powers of former Teen Hero Ikey Owens. Woo-hoo! A lineup change, which is as good an excuse as any to scrawl happily away.
Our verdict is that Ikey is to Peepshot what Ian McLagan was to the Faces and what Nicky Hopkins was to the Stones—a seasoned, solid player who adds new twists and colors to an already-potent cocktail. His keys touches brought a light gospel flavoring to older Peepshot tunes, as well as several new ones like "Dress Me Up" and "Rule of Thumb," and Ikey meshed perfectly on the band's "Matter of Choice" centerpiece, when they all go off into this amazing, swirly, extended jam—very "Sunshine Daydream"-y Dead, only harder and with more attitude, maybe even more Sir Douglas Quintet than anything. Ikey rules, and so do Peepshot. By the way, don't believe what you might've read elsewhere—Peepshot are nothing like Hootie, dig?
IT CRAWLED FROM THE MAIL BIN VINE SWEETLAND & THE FOREFATHERS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM/LIGHT SHINING IN THE DISTANCE/(ONE-SONG, 73-MINUTE ALBUM) Ummm . . . anyone seen our bong? A big purple thing, with a leaky base, slightly cracked, which we stuffed into our closet not long after Jerry died? After listening to this disc—and yes, it is indeed a one-song, 73-minute album—we started feeling those old Mary Jane pangs again. But maybe the headspace this CD put us in is one of the reasons this thing took so long to find us—recorded in '98, released in March '99, and in our mail bin just two weeks back.
"Psychedelic world-music-cum-stoner-rock" seems to be the going theme here—it's OC's very friggin' own Dark Side of the Moon (and you can interpret that one yourself whichever way you feel). Weird noises, odd effects, Mr. Vine Sweetland (a pseudonym, we assume—no, we hope) rapping sometimes-interesting, sometimes-not hippie poetry. But the best moments, quite rightly, come when all the frilly stuff shuts up and the music is allowed to rise—there are 40 instruments and 24 musicians altogether, which alone is noteworthy for a local band (though in this case, "project" seems a more fitting term than "band").
Though there are plenty of swell movements, there are also a lot of clichs afoot (the disc begins with the sound of a beating heart, just like Dark Side did; sorry, but this was dated even before Huey Lewis tried it on "The Heart of Rock & Roll") and some parts that are just plain bad. Elephant screeching! Dated echo effects during spoken-word parts, which make Vine sound like a fucked-up Jim Morrison! Vine's weaker prose, where he rambles about lunacy and prayers and the Screaming Equinox and the Hard-Boiled Soul and Something That's Pregnant (but we couldn't tell what)! A segment of noises that sound like monkeys yelping at each other while they're jerking off (or is that a tape of the last Orange Unified School District board meeting?)! Bizarre subtitles like "Sayer of the Mango," "Ode to the Caterpillar of Guru Esoh Promatem," "The Translucent World of Unclaimed Illusions," "Closing of the Pearl Cocoon" (clearly some sorta rebirthing theme afoot there) and "From the Lips of the Lotus Leaf" (and clearly some sorta vagina thing going on there)!
Self-indulgent, to be sure, and not helped by the fact that if you like, say, a passage that occurs 40 minutes in, you risk carpal tunnel of the index finger by having to keep the SCAN button on your CD player pressed in. But there are segments of this ambitious world-music opera that are moving and beautiful, too: enchanting Indian sitars that pour over your eardrums like chocolate syrup on a bowl full of vanilla-bean ice cream; gorgeous female singing/chanting that hypnotizes—even seduces, if you let it; violins, pianos, cellos and flutes that add an alluring, moody aura; exotic instruments like tablas, marimbas, didjeridus and santoors, tools that some local rock bands might wanna think about fooling around with sometime to separate themselves from everything else that's going on; even (albeit after a 45-minute wait) an unexpected Stax-like R&B groove that rides for a few minutes before fading out.
It's music meant for exploring, a soundscape that allows you to get deeper into it with each listen. It would also make for some fine chill-out tuneage during a rave. Now . . . where the hell is that bong?
Send CDs, tapes, the all-important contact info, and a birthday card because we're turning 32 on Memorial Day to Locals Only, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.
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