Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cassette Review: Dave Ruder "Qualms Rectified" (Gold Bolus Recordings) *10/13*

This cassette by Dave Ruder opens softly with a bass line and what sounds to me like a trumpet.    As opposed to how I have heard these instruments used in the most recent reviews I can think of, the rhythm here is slowed down-- it's much more mellow and seemingly set in space.    When the vocals hit in the first song he says "It started as a ripoff / But now I call it mine".   

Throughout the rest of this cassette- and now consequent listens- I will be left wondering if this statement is to be taken directly.   Was he once a ripoff artist?   I feel like maybe Dave Ruder has the characteristics of someone like a Weird Al or Tom Green-- or at least that is to say perhaps he had a musical project where he was once more closely related to that and now he's taking things more seriously.

The idea of taking things "more seriously" though is relative.   After the Ben Folds-like vocals on the first track, there is a song about peeing your pants.   It's not so much a glorification of it ("It's cool to pee your pants!" - Billy Madison), but more of a "It's ok, it's not as bad as everyone makes it out to be".     And, yes, somehow this song also reminds me of the Local H song "OK" with those Smashing Pumpkins bass lines and a slight hint of Cloud Nothings.

When a rapper has a real beef with another rapper he or she will write a "rap diss" towards that other MC.   Whenever something like that happens outside of rap (Nerf Herder > Van Halen) I don't know how to take it.   Is there such a thing as a "twee diss"?   If not, Dave Ruder might have just created it for the first time with a song where he sings about how much he hates this guy Steve and his stupid, shitty songs. 

The best part of this song is that there are so many Steves in the world of music there could be a hundred reviews written for this cassette and either author chooses a different one to reflect on and rage.   While I would hope deep down inside that "Steve" is really "Steven" and it's a jab at Aerosmith (One of the most overrated bands ever), I'm going to keep it more grounded and choose the "artist" known as Delicate Steve, mainly because I could never get into his music.  (Tweet at me what musical Steves you hate!)

On the flip side, the clarinet can be heard with bass and it has this overall sense that even though there might be guitar parts in here I seem to always hear it as someone just plucking the notes and strumming a bass guitar.    Words and stories bring me back to thoughts of Ben Folds and he mentions something about someone saying he resembled a blonde Gene Kelly but he didn't know what that meant.   I feel like that's... a compliment?  I don't know, I'd have to hear the context of it.

As much as there are words in these songs- and they are fun- a decent amount of this cassette can be thought of as instrumental just the same.    These sort of synth skips near the end combine with a clarinet which reminds me of jazz.   The skipping pattern can be thought of as a light flickering on and off, the dimly lit room of some forgotten jazz club where only the artists you've never heard of before play. 

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