Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Psychedelic Ransom Notes"

CDBaby's write-up of NNMaddox states:
NNMaddox views his Top 40 peers as embarrassing crybaby pussies who wouldn't know how to change a flat tire. Don't be fooled by his rail-thin exterior. This man is no crooning bitch. He'll take a motherfucka's head off if he gotsa. And you better fucking believe he already has. He'll straight up hit you with a tire iron and steal your wallet.

Having met this wonderfully talented and beautiful waif of a man, I would be hard-pressed to describe him in such a hood-ish manner. Still, I wouldn't mess with him and am quite happy to be an adoring fan.

We first met at the Stage Door of the Ed Sullivan Theater, in New York City. The year is unimportant. We both questioned our presence there and still laugh about it today.

The first record of NNMaddox's that I heard was "Long Island Baby," and I was an instant fan.

Low Fidelity. It always sounded funny to me, because I thought it was a joke, or a pun. One of my fave Elvis songs is "High Fidelity" with lyrics like:
Even though you're nowhere near me
And I know you kiss him so sincerely now
Even though the signal's indistinct
And you worry what silly people think
Who just can't wait to feel so frozen out
I bet he thinks that he was chosen out of millions
I suppose he'll never know about
High fidelity

But, I digress. I am not writing about Elvis Costello, I am writing about NNMaddox.

NNMaddox is amazingly versatile, and hits the target at will, any target, in any light or any time of day, with any weapon. There is a country, maybe a hillbilly sensibility to his vocals and that sensibility belies the sophistication of the harmonies, discordance, and lyrics.

His latest release is "Psychedelic Ransom Notes."

"What Goes Around" starts with a very hip (not hip-hop) acoustic guitar that could have walked out of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" LP. It easily slides into a rhythmic trance.

"Chicken Little" pokes fun at more cliched lyrics than The Tubes or 10cc could ever have imagined. "I think the sky is falling" is an obvious line that does not betray the tongue-in-cheek irreverence of the song.

"Kiss The Earth" starts as a techno-pop diddy that is brought to a country-music landing strip onto which it finds an emergency landing. If Kraftwerk had spent even a moment with actual people playing actual instruments in Appalachia, they might have thought of this.

A love song. Every record needs a love song. "Everybody Loves Me (Everyone But You)" cannot be compared to Leon Russell's "Superstar," but it can be compared to Malcolm McLaren's "Duck Rock" LP or David Byrne's lame attempts at world music, mixed with Lou Reed's "Street Hassle" sensibility.

OK. You've listened to four or five tracks and you ask yourself: "What the fuck is it with the vocal treatments?" Is it just his voice? I can't explain. I have no idea. I just like it.

"Love The Bomb" sounds like a post-punk remake of Shannon's "Let The Music Play" sung by a Mississippi Delta meth addict.

The New Order-ish "The Devil Wears Prada" is my favorite cut. You tell me why. I don't know why. I listen to it over and over. Maybe it's the line "I like to think that I'm a rebel, but the devil wears Prada shoes." I own a pair of Prada shoes. They do not make me a rebel.

Then it strikes me: Neil Young. Or is it Traffic being done by Alvin Lee? "Lady Sovereign" includes a nifty little piano riff that pokes at you throughout the song. Neil Young or a battered Steve Winwood, I like it (and I do not like either of them).

"If you like Rock N Roll Like I Do, we'll have a real good time."

Another world music tribute "Ziggy Played Sitar" is a vicious and eerie stab at glam-rock girls and includes little references to Marc Bolan and David Bowie songs. This one got 5-stars in my playlist.

"Susanna Hoffs" is a tribute to The Bangles singer with an obvious, but amusing reference to Oh Susannah.

"Warhol Superstar" starts as if Omme Kalsoumme is about to chante en Francais, but instantly becomes an Egyptian pop tune that sounds like songs I heard in a Casablanca dining room. Is he singing about Nico or my godmother, Ultra Violet?

I now realize that this CD "Psychedelic Ransom Notes" is NN Maddox's world music release and it makes me happier. The CD contains 20 songs,which I think is too many for any release. I recommend listening to it in two sittings, or randomized.

The package continues in NN Maddox's inimitable style of individually created CDs. I do not know if each copy is unique, but each is made by hand by the artist.

Buy it.

NNMaddox's production company 14mercy produces a number of releases each year. 14mercy artist Erin Smogor was nominated for a 2006 Just Plain Folks music award for her NNMaddox produced CD "Erin Smogor Hates Mike Macharyas." Congratulations Erin Smogor and NNMaddox.

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