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
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