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Clowns Suck!

By Jurek Multidupa

After a long, agonizing wait and years of development, toil, remakes, remakes, remakes, and remakes, The Pop Cans' debut album, Clowns Suck! has arrived! And buster, it was worth the wait! The power burned into these magnetic particles that I hold in my hand is the finest in the nation, and indeed a rare commodity anywhere in the world. You will be hard pressed to find anything like Clowns Suck!, for it's a raging mellow blend of smooth tones, fun tunes, and stop-on-a-dime construction designed to install easily and fit perfectly with improved comfort and reliability, precision manufactured to exacting specifications to retain maximum durability and performance.

The ingenuity and craftsmanship that went into Clowns Suck! is spread all over the album, from the first to the last track, and you will not be able to do anything but reach for the rewind button (and then the play button again). Forget the stop or eject buttons, this music forms what amounts to a force field around them, because your brain will say "Gee, I only want to cram more of The Pop Cans' Clowns Suck! into my auditory nerve endings to stimulate the sensory areas of my cerebral cortex. Hand, do not fiddle with those buttons that cause silence to come crashing down about the ears. Yeah, re-cue the tape for more!" But The Pop Cans are much more than style, grace and poise; Clowns Suck! has socially enlightening messages to convey (namely that certain people, organizations, affiliations, trades, styles or objects SUCK and are not worthy of songs bearing the titles Cops Are Great, Country Music is Awesome, or Stupid Things Are Immature, Moronic, And Must Be Avoided At All Costs (pop that one on a jukebox label). In addition, these messages arrive in a wealth of musical vehicles to please all tastes and preferences. The tonal variety and lyrical harmonies flow from a well-stocked mellifluous palette to merge, combine, entangle, mate, and eat each other in a fashion heretofore unattainable by the best of those who have tried.

Okay, well, the album opens with the track Pie. This is a weird, groovy takeoff of an episode of a weird show called Trying Times that starred David Byrne and Rosanne Arquette where they '...throw some ashes in the garbage can and start the house on fire...'. This funky bass line tune then shuffles its way on down to a song that I'm sure many folks could agree with, Cops Suck. It's a fun tune that takes a little smiling jab at our otherwise fine, superb, impeccable law enforcement community, because we know that they can appreciate the humor and wouldn't let a bit of good-natured mockery rub their titanic power trips and egos the wrong way (billy-clubs in hand). Stupid Things will remind you of the joys of lunacy. Additionally, credit is due Michigan Pete for very early originating work in collaboration on this track. Pete, you may remember, was a high-powered member of the Feedbacks in the mid-late 80's when the band was crankin' it out, and has also made a number of contributions to other local underground bands. Next is one of my personal all-time favorites, Monkey Arms (you would have to know the subject of this one to really appreciate it, but it is hilarious. Just enjoy it!). This industrial-style tune features heavy-duty keyboard work, and the patented Distortion Voice really lends an edge to the vocal force.

Side two contains Country Guy, where the Pop Cans really show off their country background, telling of a hick wanna-be who is singing his song. Here you will find some of the best harmonica work to come down the pipe in a long time, which at moments gets rocking so furiously that it sounds like someone hyperventilating through the harp. The title track, Clowns Suck, retains much of the same hard rock style that was instilled in at its inception (I've heard all the various pre-release versions of this track, and it has only minor modifications since it was composed). In this tune, M really sounds like he hates clowns, and means it. He also gives reasons why. This statement and supporting evidence are hard to find holes in, and the only holes we want after listening to this jam should be in clowns. I cannot figure out for the life of me of what happened to Killer Squid, but this song got totally transformed into an industrial effort, which really does deliver good results. Distortion Voice plays an important role here, causing the listener to repeatedly rewind the song in attempts to figure out what the hell is being said (this maximizes playing time and allows you to trade bizarre lyric interpretations with friends, just two outstanding advantages of this Pop Cans album). Last but not least, the instrumental CBJ is the country-blues jam, and it is the culmination of the bluesy-rock-country flavors that permeate the album. Sources inside Sonic Vision (the Cans' label) tell me that CBJ was recorded very early on in the long Clowns Suck! production project, and was basically the product of an impromptu jam session. Hard to tell from the finished product though, it sounds like a lot of time, effort, and arrangement went into it. This track contains probably some of the best guitar work on the whole album. All in all, The Pop Cans' Clowns Suck! achieves the highest rating---four stars. I'd give it more stars but I've never seen that done before by any other critics, and I wouldn't want to break out of the mold and be adventuresome, so four will have to do, but you deserve more, guys!

©2006 Sonic Vision Entertainment