Technically this should come after THE CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN WITH A TRIANGLE in the discography. It was released after that album, even if all the material predates it. But I think it looks better placed right here. And you know what they say — if you’re going to break from the tradition of keeping things in order of chronological release on your blog’s sidebar, do it for aesthetic reasons.
There’s no way this was ever going to work as any kind of normal, coherent album. It covers a period of eight years, with many changes in equipment, sound quality, and skill level along the way. And I doubt it’s the sort of thing many people would find very interesting. I mean, there’s more than three hours of music here, and almost seventy songs — making this the longest album I’ve ever made, at least until THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE hits the finish line twenty years from now — and it isn’t all top-tier material by any means.
I think it was worth putting together anyway, if only for fun.
I spent years stewing on the idea of an all-encompassing misfits collection. This is really just the tip of the ice berg. It was seriously whittled down from the gargantuan thing it started out as, and then whittled down again after that…and it’s still pretty beefy and inconsistent.
Slapping things together in the order they were recorded would have been the easiest thing to do, but then the thing would have had no real flow. It was a bit of a sequencing headache. It became a bigger headache after I realized a two-disc sequence I was really happy with wouldn’t work because there was far too much music to squeeze onto just two CDs. In the end I decided to treat it as more of a marathon mix-tape, even if there’s only one artist and no rap to be found throughout (though Comb-over Outro gets close to hip-hop).
In spite of its grab-bag nature, this mess of music offers a pretty well-rounded idea of some of the places I touched on during the eight-year period it covers. There’s synth-based non-pop from the time of GROWING SIDEWAYS and WHO YOU ARE NOW, several BRAND NEW SHINY LIE out-takes that are about as close as I ever got to conventional “alternative rock”, improvised silliness from the time when my songwriting process consisted of hitting the record button and seeing what toppled out, instrumental pieces of all shapes and sizes, experiments (some successful, some not so much), song sketches, ten-minute tracks and thirty-second fragments, spoken word pieces, parodies, an epic piano ballad, and several tracks that aren’t like anything that’s come out on an official album of mine.
You don’t get much of a taste of the visceral, screaming, Psycho Johnny side of things. That was pretty much covered on all those Papa Ghostface and Guys with Dicks CDs. There isn’t really anything here that touches on the insanity that can be found on some of those albums, but there is at least one song with a few of my favourite screams in it, lifted from the little-heard Starving Artists CD.
The 25,000 word booklet that comes with the album pretty much says all I have to say about the songs and then some. As bloated as it is, I think there’s some interesting stuff here. With some tracks, it’s pretty clear why they never got to hang out with the songs that showed up on proper albums, but there are a handful things here worth hearing, I think.
A few personal favourites: Promises, the infamous epic piano ballad, which is somehow one of my favourite things I’ve ever done even though it should make me shudder with its rhyming lyrics of love; Khaki Lamb, which is a pretty simple acoustic thing that goes from a monochromatic existence to being hammered with sudden bursts of colour during the coda; Trouble, which is not one of my most intricate spoken word pieces, but it has a certain ominous atmosphere to it that sets it apart from the others; Unfold a Tail Gorgeous with Painted Plumage, an instrumental track with what has to be one of the best song titles I’ve ever been provided with via a spam email (turns out the spambot lifted it from Aesop’s Fables); It’s Not Easy to Say, which says it all in barely a minute without a single word being spoken or sung; and Bloody Chicago (Morning), which is one of the best blues-based things I’ve done, in 3/4 time, even though it was recorded at a time when I didn’t know anything about the blues.
From the sketchy to the sexy, it’s all here, and if it isn’t, well…you’ll be able to find it on the next misfits collection in 2018 or so, I imagine.
Filler (live on CJAM)
Puppet Shoot Puppet (remake)
My Life (part one)
Unfold a Tail Gorgeous with Painted Plumage
Bloody Chicago (Morning)
My Little One
I’m Not the Only One Who Sees Through You
Tell Me Something (demo)
Distorted Drum Riff
Cultivating November Spray
Some Enchanted Early Evening
Stop Thinking About It
It’s Not Easy to Say
Symbolism Therapist (2008 remix)
Unstable Things (live on CJAM)
My Life (part two)
Durex Sheik Condom Song
D.R. Must Die
Broken Strobe Light Dances
Random Red Guitar Riff
Razor Blades on Cotton Balls
Just a Girl
These Hills Would Be Mountains If You Were Smaller
Olive Branch of Sores
Rinse off the Gun-Shy Finger
An Uneasy Alliance
Someone’s Gotta Tell Her
They Removed Your Wings (sketch)
Eight Hour Twitch
Late Night Sentimental Vomit
I’ll Try Anything Twice
Sale of a Dead Man
There Are No Violins
He Was Good When He Was Alone
Some People Sign Their Bame and It Looks like a Broken Fish Hook
Wurly Test #2
Synth Intro/Jazzy Piano + Brushed Drums
Cat Piss on My Bed
A Home at the End of the Frozen River
Olive Branch of Sores (instrumental)