Not Your Momma's Famous Monsters << Prev Next >>
Music correspondent Mister M weighs in on Famous Monsters, Ford Theatre Reunion's upcoming release!...
By Mister M on Jul 02 2013 Category:Media, Music
In order to make an album of songs about monsters that doesn’t turn into silly “Monster Mash” hokum, you have to understand that it’s inhumanity that defines monsters. If Dracula just wanted blood, he would be a glorified mosquito. His malevolence is in the way that he reduces a victim like Renfield to slavery and casts him aside when he is no longer needed. Frankenstein’s Creature claims to have a right to happiness, but instead seeks rage-inspired vengeance through arson and murder. On Famous Monsters, The Ford Theatre Reunion delves into the monstrousness and exhumes a rollicking hour of circus punk and swingin’ cacophony.
The songs have a patchwork Frankenquality to them. They twist and turn, slow down and speed up, lurch, tango, bounce and croon. There are dashes of Zappa, Mr. Bungle and Captain Beefheart, but the godfather would be a balkanized Tom Waits. The voices come from all angles: Eric growls, Joe plays the preacher (manic and expounding) and Alex ranges from angel to banshee to Andrews Sister to koo-koo sexpot (seriously, what can’t she do?).
Famous Monsters is chock-full o’ malevolent glee. This reinforces the monstrosity. You get sucked into the spirit. It’s like the famous Nietzsche quote from Beyond Good and Evil, “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster.” By confronting the horror, you necessarily become aligned with it or tainted by it. As the band points out on the albums title track, “Everybody needs a good monster sometimes. You can’t whistle past a graveyard if everyone survives.” This is the gentlest yet jauntiest track.
The album begins with “Panzer Klaus” and “Bone Mother.” Man Monster, meet Lady Monster. “Panzer Klaus” is a Yuletide terror, far more krampus than Kris Kringle. “Bone Mother” is an Eastern European devourer of children. Her iron teeth point us in the direction of Baba Yaga. Both of these characters touch upon mystical male and female horrors of folklore. These Famous Monsters owe more to Joseph Campbell than to the Purple People Eater.
There’s a Lovecraftian nameless dread in some of the tracks. “Crook & Crack” is a tango with architectural details that widen instead of filling in the cracks. “Tea & Cakes” looks at a home with warmth and treats where “you can come inside and stay inside…forever.” Ah, the juxtaposition of haunted house music and almost-innocent lyrics!
“Alligator,” the streaming single at http://www.thefordtheatrereunion.com, introduces a boogeyman that is a “swamp walker” and a “skin stealer.” I’ve caught this one live, and it’s a better treat than an apple with a razor blade!
The Ford Theatre Reunion unleashes Famous Monsters on July 5 via http://www.thefordtheatrereunion.com. It will be available as a download later in the month at fordtheatrereunion.bandcamp.com.
Mr. M plays theremin and other oddball musical devices in the old-timey mad scientist band The White City Rippers and twangs washtub bass in the steampunk Britney Spears tribute band Spears and Gears. He also spins the amber oldies with the Lords & Ladies DJ crew.