Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dylan Brody's "Dylan Goes Electric: Live at the Throckmorton"

Back in 1984 I was a 13-year-old sitting in an Indiana Junior High classroom getting the “Don’t Do Drugs” talk from a representative from the local police force. Although I agreed with the basic gist of his speech (What can I say, I was a good boy), there was something that didn’t quite sit right with me; Something about his spiel just didn’t make sense. I couldn’t put my finger on it but, like watching any effects-heavy retouched George Lucas film, you can tell that something didn’t line up. 

No, I hadn’t heard about that kid who was speeding down the back roads at an ungodly rate, tripping out on MARIJUANA, but why would a policeman lie? It seemed logical that he saw a deer (every Indiana story has a deer) and yes, I had heard of the hallucinogenic effects MARIJUANA has on a person (this was back in the day when MARIJUANA was the worst drug my little town had seen. Fast forward to 2014 when Garrett IN has twice as many meth labs as it does stoplights), and it only made sense that he saw the deer morph into a dragon and it scared him so badly he veered off the road, hit a tree, and he died instantly.

If only Dylan Brody had been there to play Sherlock Holmes to my John Watson. He would have pointed out to me that no one could have known what someone else was seeing before they died instantly. I had completely forgotten about that cautionary tale until I listened to Brody’s new project, “Dylan Goes Electric: Live at the Throckmorton” and he re-counted a similar tale told to him as a youngster (without the deer and with marijuana swapped out for a much more appropriate drug of choice). 

Brody is back with another collection of stories that are just as wonderfully and meticulously crafted as any he’s told in the past (readers of this blog already know I’m a Dylan Brody Fanboy), and it’s nice to re-visit a dear friend. He begins this CD with a few stories about his mother that will connect with anyone who’s tried to walk an older relative through the workings of [insert any technological item that’s been invented since the year 2000 here]. 

As you hear Brody’s patience get stretched to its limit while Mrs Brody struggles with understanding her GPS, the earth’s rotation, and the music of The Mountain Goats, you can’t help but empathize with his clenched teeth and the sarcastic asides that he must - he must - say out loud so as not to fly off the handle. That’s what I love about Brody. He never yells at someone even if they might have it coming (like his ridiculous mugger-turned-panhandler), but exacts his own revenge by taking the higher road, happily hovering over them, leaving them standing in a cloud of misunderstanding while he and his father snicker at wordplay on “ad hominem.”

You think we’re here for standup comedy, but really Brody is here to tell a poem (it just has a 55-minute intro). When we finally get to his poetry you’ll find it was more than worth the wait. His Seuss-ian Sudoku piece will make both your mouth and ears smile even though it’s sure to ruffle the feathers of Star Wars nerds everywhere (Say it with me: “ANAKIN!!!”)

If/when you do purchase this album, I encourage you to take the time to browse the liner notes. Not only will you enjoy some of Brody’s own artwork but his written commentary adds a nice touch of flair to each piece. In a time when CD art has become a lost skill, it’s nice to see it hasn’t been forgotten. That’s what you get when you’re dealing with a perfectionist like Brody. When he does something, not only does he do it well, he does all of it well.  Brody knocks it out of the park time after time after time and this go-around is no exception. Plug in “Electric” and see for yourself.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dave Waite's "Hotdoggin'"

Comedy is meant to be fun. That’s probably the most obvious statement in the world but after listening to my fair share of albums over the past few years, sometimes listening to comedy is a straight-up chore. It’s become pretty clear when someone comes with an agenda other than to make people laugh and usually that’s when the eye-rolling begins. It seems to be a pretty easy trap to let political agenda, anger, or style take precedence over actual humor and content and that’s why the new album from Dave Waite was such a joy to experience. He’s not trying to solve the world’s problems or scold the rest of us for screwing up the world. He’s just… “Hotdoggin’."

Waite is a goofball and he knows he is. Droppin’ G’s and and revelin’ in his day drinkin’ adventures, he just wants to know where the party is. If there isn’t one, he’s more than willing to get one rolling. One moment he’s playing Who Is Smarter with fellow art patrons at the museum (especially fun when no one else knows they're in on the game) and the next he’s trying to get home from the afore-mentioned shindig doing his darndest to not get pulled over by the police for drunk walking.

There are a couple of stories on this CD that absolutely killed me, most notably his observation about the little things we do as humans living in a current society that at the time seem like things that need to be done. Inevitably, however, all they do is make us late for things that are actually important. It’s hard to blame anyone but yourself for missing the train when you spent five minutes in your apartment holding your own private “Twizzler-eatin’ dance party.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely found myself running late a few times, only to remember the song that popped up in my iTunes that made me stop what I was doing to just…hotdog it for a while.

Some people esteem themselves higher than they probably should but Waite could never be accused of such misguided confidence. He freely admits he’s the wrong guy to call if you’re going through a tough situation and if he does have a message to spread, it’s an important one about your monstrous, sweaty hands.

As you move from track to track you’re never quite sure what to expect from Waite, and that’s one of the things that makes this project such a delight. He lets you know how to tell if you’re in the 31st-best haunted house in America,  he vows to not pray for your friend’s sick cat, and there are “a couple of quick crack stories” that Waite has to share and I’m glad he did. You’ll definitely love hearing what all of the fuss is about.

If you still haven’t figured out what kind of guy Waite is, the last track on the CD should provide the missing puzzle piece. This is a guy who loved spending time as a child reading a book about football bloopers. Think about that for a second and you’ll understand a bit more about Waite. He’ll smile, give you a happy thumbs up, a wink, and maybe even throw some finger guns your way. And that, my friends, is hotdoggin’.