Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chune: Big Hat, No Cattle (1996)

(As published in B-Side ... )

Big Hat, No Cattle

This disc has only six songs, but don't figure it for an E.P., not when all six keep going and going (and going). Sometimes you'll think one's over, but then it's final chord will take forever to fade, or its final drum crash will keep rolling only to peter out a minute or two later. The song titles, on the other hand, are over really fast: “Dated and Jaded,” “Water Sandwich,” “Fishwrap,” “One-Man Dream Machine,” “Playboys and Tourniquets,” and--my favorite--“Duel Rectums” (good thing they didn't call it “Dueling Rectums”). What makes the disc tolerable-to-enjoyable on the whole is that Andy Harris sings with the ravaged-but-unbowed enthusiasm and skill of a displaced pop singer. Stick him in front of a tight combo, throw in background singers and maybe a producer, and who knows? He might even get invited to sing at Sinatra's 90th. For now, however, the sloppiness of his three Chunemates betokens fatigue and sloppiness-for-its-own-sake instead of the youthful rebelliousness it was undoubtedly supposed to. Or, to put it another way, at such exhausted tempos and never-ending lengths, each song sounds as if it were supposed to be the last song on the album. And, of course, only one of them can be.

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