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Everything, Now!
Bible Universe / Ugly Magic
(self-released)
www.everythingnowmusic.com


Everything, Now! - Bible Universe

Muncie is one of those towns. Folks there don't intend to be exclusionary, they're just comfortable in the assumption that you know where Doc's is without the benefit of an address or telephone number. There's an endearing, if frustrating innocence in this belief that anyone in Muncie was born there, and therefore has the map to Village Green Records imprinted in their mitochondria. It's this lack of worldly savvy that renders the Everything, Now! website nearly useless but adds an undeniable intrigue to us outsiders. It's almost as though they don't want to make it outside of Muncie . It's one of those deals like The Fluid or Admiral Twin where only locals know them and they seem to be fine with that. "Turn left where Jimmy Dayton used to live until he burnt down." What I'm getting at is that it's taken me a year of research to find out this much; Jonathan David Rogers now goes by Crafty, and some other fellows perform various hazardous duties. Also, the paint on the cool handcrafted CD sleeves is peeling off, lending true credibility to the DIY ethos.

My assessment of 2005's Police, Police! holds true when measured against Bible Universe. These boys may as well be from Norman, OK. Though EN (as Munsonians call them) carry on the tradition the F-lips abandoned when Wayne Coyne joined the WB. That's not to say that Crafty has not progressed, because progress he has; just not at the cost of accessibility. The suitably absurd thoughts on robots and religion are randomly documented in a hand-scrawled tract. Some of the finer points are left to the imagination like a cryptograph. The music is well-crafted while oddly-grafted into ungodly abominations. Powdery AM Gold pop slips into stomping Stonesy choruses (Exile in Bible Universe.) Prog-gospel borrowed from Styx's "Renegade" turns to Beatley vaudeville. (The Myth of the Wizard Bird.) Somehow a heart monitor seeps magically into a Kraftwerk version of Three Dog Night. (Assimilation.) Bowie echoes through "Freedom Sex With Bible Women," which ends in a swarthy chorus of debauchers. Bible Universe succeeds in piecing together all the styles that cross Rogers' ADDled mind into a comfy quilt.

Everything, Now! - Ugly Magic

I may have spoken out of turn. Ugly Magic begins the disco seepage. But where The Flaming Lips went the route of the BeeGees, Jonathan David Rogers opts for Prince Rogers Nelson's funky over-processed falsetto. The centerpiece "Cursed Be The Everything Now And All Who Sail With It" steals the bassline from "Thriller" and guides it through a pop-culture tour of Satan's minions, "Rosencrantz is the beast/ Guildenstern is deceased/ Ronald Reagan was the beast/ James Brown rest in peace." The humorous indictment lists major and minor players in the evil corporo-political empire. "Metaphysical Meals" takes the same gang-vocal path to spoof modern R&B with lyrics so stupid they rhyme Marie Curie with curry. The jarring banjo gives a Steve Earle meets Ween feel.

"Babyshaker" goes garage baroque, and offers a fine example of Rogers' enjoyably pedestrian vocals. His progressions are fully satisfying, the gruff tones push the tension. There's a straight Zeppelin knock off in "Man Version," followed by tributes to Bowie, Zappa, Beefheart and Cocker. But odder than that is the sudden appearance of decidedly Caucasian dub. "I Was On a Quiz Show" sounds like Cake attempting ska. The two dub numbers drag on for seven minutes apiece. Some of Ugly Magic is redeemable, like Devendra Banhardt with a sense of humor. But too often, I just wish the song would end so I can listen to Bible Universe again.

-Ewan Wadharmi

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