Trans Universal Worldwide
Been awhile since we've heard from Shave, Long Beach's semi-renowned gang of psychotropic jesters. A long while—their previous disc, Jesus Shaves, came out six years ago, an eternity for any band, local or otherwise. We thought they'd broken up by now, if they weren't serving out a mandatory minimum sentence someplace. But then a few months ago, a copy of Trans Universal Worldwide fell into our mail bin, a spin of which revealed an older, more mature, more professional Shave. Gone is the era when they'd pen songs about whores, hummers (not the kind you drive) and drinking while driving. Instead, anthemic sagas about competitive bowling have replaced those more juvenile aspects. (Why, oh, why, was "Rival Bowler" absent from The Big Lebowski soundtrack?) "New York L.A." is deliciously kitschy, a mini-rock opera about how no one city is able to contain Shave's creative vision, so they have to move to outer space—or something. Other tunes miss their targets. "Innocent By-Product of the Media" isn't anywhere near as pointed as you'd judge from that title, and "Mr. Politician" is even less so (though it does sound like a hit song, albeit one we've heard before—is it "Everyday," "Authority Song" or that old Blues Traveler hit they're swiping the arrangement from?). Other times, they just run out of ideas, which is when their younger, sillier selves resurface: "One Idea" is something potheads would come up with when they can't think of anything else to write about; "Icky Soda" can only be a love sonnet about semen; and "Headchange Records," about their own indie label, would be fine if it were a five-second jingle and not a two-minute-plus opus. But the music is mostly grand, stuff everyone from jam-band freaks to elite hipster rockists could find charm in. What, though, is with the radio-edited songs at the end of the CD? You can't hear good music on the radio anymore, so why doesn't Shave just start their own uncensored Internet station?
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