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Thursday, January 5, 2012

(the) Coolies - dig...?

Name: (the) Coolies
Album: dig...?
Year: 1986
Style: Silly Punk, College Pub Rock
Similar Bands: Dead Milkmen, Wesley Willis, early-mid Ween, Half-Japanese
"One-Word" Review: Gaggy-Amateur-Pub-Punk
Based Out Of: Atlanta, GA
Label: DB Recs
dig...? - Cover & Record
dig...? Back & Record

dig...?(1986)
  1. Scarborough Fair 2:24
  2. Bridge Over Troubled Water 4:08
  3. The 59th St. Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) 2:23
  4. I Am A Rock 3:58
  5. El Condor Pasa 4:02 /
  6. Having My Baby 4:41
  7. Cecilia 2:27
  8. Homeward Bound 3:11
  9. Mrs. Robinson 1:53
  10. The Only Living Boy in NY 4:35
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Clay Harper - Vox (Ottoman Empire)
Rob Gal - Guitar, Recording
Jeb Baldwin - Bass, Recording
Teddy Murray - Guitar
Billy Burton - Drums
Anne Richmond Boston - Cover Art (Swimming Pool Q's)
John Cerreta - Keys
Kathryn Kolb - Photography

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band, and it looks like a very home made, pasted-together album. Juvenile and silly also come to mind with the juxtaposition of the cover and the band images on the back. Now, I’m not that familiar with Simon and Garfunkel, but I am enough to notice that most of the songs here are either covers or repurposed interpretations of their songs. So perhaps they are silly versions of familiar songs. I’m interested to see how bad this is, that’s my gut feeling.

Album Review: So these are all covers, or renditions of Simon & Garfunkel songs, with the exception of “Having My Baby,” which is Paul Anka. They have an interesting-sounding follow up concept album, that coincidentally or not, reads “Dig” “Doug” when said in chronological order with this album.

“Scarborough Fair” starts with a guitar played like a car alarm siren, and the vocals are sung/spoken with a type of Wesley Willis cadence, but more similar to the Dead Milkmen.
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” the vocals are an angry singing, and the simple drum beat and guitar sound (again similar to Dead Milkmen) make me think that they are trying to parody AC/DC or maybe the Beastie Boys. That is at least until the backing guitar is added, and the song rocks out. They lyrics are there from Simon/Garfunkel, but the melody is totally different. There is a lead guitar freak out a couple of times that reminds me of both Ween, and the solo in Weird Al’s Eat It (or Beat It, but the amateur nature of the recording is closer to Yankovic)
“The 59th St. Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)” is a side to side swaying doo-wop (without the doo-wap vocals) love song. It feels stoned and drunk in its vocal tempo, and reminds me of Half Japanese a little. By the time the tired chorus finishes the song out, the vocals just don’t care anymore.
“I Am A Rock” starts out as a bluesy pub ballad, but then a catchy guitar riff comes in and the song becomes a straight forward pub rock song. The vocals have a sort of redneck, unintelligent style about them. The singing sounds like a half-assed, incredibly drugged up one-take recording.
“El Condor Pasa” comes in with fuzz and distortion, and the song feels like a Jimi Hendrix impression. Even the background vocals sound warbly and off key in a kind of annoying way. But somehow, it all works together. Like a really bad 60’s garage band.

“Having My Baby” begins with the guitar slide sound from Walk on the Wild Side. And the vocals are like the bad traits of a combined Roy Orbison and David Byrne offspring. The vocals are just trying too hard to walk the line between serious yet mocking. That said, it is probably the most accessible song. There is a cute joke when the singing stops and a monologue is spoken about leaving town because of the baby. It ends boldly with a build up to a instrumental climax.
“Cecilia” is sung slowly with the same familiar melody through the first stanza. After that, it continues with the melody, but the tempo increases to something of a surf punk stylized song. As the vocalist becomes board with the melody, the experimenting reminds me a lot again of the Dead Milkmen.
“Homeward Bound” is a great pub rock version of the song. It retains the same melody. Basically. But the vocals in the chorus sound genuinely excited to be singing this song. He sounds like a bad Mick Jagger impressionist at times.
“Mrs. Robinson” begins with a fast drum beat and progresses into an instrumental surf guitar tune with the original familiar melody as its basis.
“The Only Living Boy in NY” sounds like Jad Fair singing a Lou Reed song in front of a fuzzed up garage band playing a generic Ramones composition. It has a nice driving pace instrumentally and both vocal excited energy and not caring boredom side-by-side.

Despite my review saying it is bad, or poor versions of, or amateur version, or whatever negative sounding critique I may have made, I actually kind of liked the album. I like the rawness, the inexperienced feel and general this is our idea and baby production. This could have been done in one take or it might have been scrutinized to sound like this, but I do like it. The album really finishes much more competently than how it starts.

Stand Out Track: "Homeward Bound"

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