Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cassette Review: John Davis and the Cicadas "El Pulpo" (Shrimper Records)

What is a song?  My music theory teacher would have a more exact answer for this, but for me, a song is something which can instantly transport you to a certain point in time the second you hear it.   It's kind of funny I only recently watched "The People vs OJ Simpson" and when I heard the song "Natural One" in there I was immediately taken back to the movie "Kids" and just where I was at in my life at that time.  (I also posted a photo of the cassingle I have, which I'm always reminded of that image when I hear that song as well)   The music created by John Davis has never been verse/chorus/verse as much as it has been magic.

On "El Pulpo" there is a a bit of psych rock.   It resembles They Might Be Giants and not just because a chorus of kids sing along on the first track- "Sugar Daddy Candy Corn", which is a lot of fun.    Overall though this music is fairly mellow.  It has a Lou Reed and even at times Bruce Springsteen style to it.    There can be funky percussion and even it can get tribal to some extent, but even a song like "Vanilla Shake" has a fun piano jangle.

I feel like if you're reading this though and if you are already a fan of John Davis, and thus John Davis and the Cicadas (Jon Secada, please don't sue!) you already have an idea of what the music is going to be like.   I don't want to name other names for various reasons, but there are people out there who have posters on their walls of "rock stars" who helped shape their youth and all of that, and for me, that can be said of John Davis.

What this cassettes come down to for me is two things: what the songs are about (because you know musically they're going to be right on) and the overall tone of it.    There is a song dedicated to Coca Cola, which is actually pretty cool, and in the opener on Side B- "Who Milks The Cow"- he lists off a who's who of pizza chains, among other topics.    Granted, this cassette isn't just about food but in some ways that is what I took out of it the most.  Am I always hungry?  Is that why?  Should we always stay hungry?

My take on all of this- and it might not be 100% accurate and you can absolutely find your own meaning in these songs- is that this starts off kind of as a fun, not really folk but sort of that kind of traditional rock singer music.   I think of it as even being something where he's sitting in front of kids playing some of these songs.   And slowly, as the songs progress, as he sits with these kids, they get a little restless and he slowly begins to lose his patience.

There is this unwinding on this cassette.  It starts off mellow enough and even I'd dare say wholesome, but by the end it feels maniacal.     It's like how Willy Wonka sang so innocently about "Pure Imagination" but then ended up going through a frightening tunnel.   But if I had to compare this with a character I do choose the Mad Hatter as there are the tick-tock banjo type of notes in a drawn out way which could certainly drive you to madness.

Music shouldn't just be about killer guitar riffs and lyrics you can tattoo on your shoulder.    Music should be about feelings.   It should spark something inside of you.   As with songs by John Davis in the past, I have no doubt that whenever I listen to this cassette it will transport me back to where I was when I first heard it.   And you can certainly argue that maybe my take on it is based more on where I'm at in my life but music, ultimately, yes, should have that personal touch.

$7 //
Edition of 150 //

No comments:

Post a Comment