Sunday, October 01, 2006

This Is A Good Album: "Chocolate and Cheese" by Ween

I've been downloading albums like an insane nymph recently and I don't know which albums to pay attention to. Really!! I'm dividing up my music listening time way too much sir. It hasn't always been like this. I usually pace myself when it comes to music. What's happening to me??

"Chocolate and Cheese", though, this Ween album. This band, this music, has stood out. It is riveting.

I thought Ween were this cutesy, stupid country-folk band! I saw them on "South Park" and "Crank Yankers," way back in the day. They had that song "The Rainbow". "Many colors in the Homo Rainbow... don't be afriad to let your colors shiiiiiine!!" That was the only line they played in the episode, and it was hilarious. But that's all I thought of them, you know. That's what I thought of them when I first heard them mentioned by album reviewers and friends alike. "Oh... the 'Homo Rainbow' guys! Haha. That was pretty funny. They're probably a decent band for a laugh. Let's see how they are!"

Lemme just say one thing. Ween are not a joke band. And I mean that. They are jokey, joke-ish, they... well, they tell some jokes. Sure they do! But they're not a novelty, they certainly aren't cute, and they're not a bunch of songs written by some alt-rock parody band or something. I guess you really have to listen to the music to see what I mean, I like to generalize.

But you get the picture, I think. Right from "Take Me Away," you can see these guys aren't just a cute joke. Okay, Dean's voice (is it Dean or Gene? I forget which one) sounds like a Elvis impersonator after more than a few shots of Captain Morgan. But hey - the music is great! Rockabilly blues or something, I don't know. It's the same with a lot of their other songs - "Roses Are Free," one of my favorites, is kinda like Prince I think. Damn, man, it's striaght-up funkadelic shit. Lyrics about a pumpkin holding your destiny. Sounds silly, sure, but listen to the song! The way the guitar and that crazy synth noodly thing build during the bridge, right after that crazy circus-themed ditty rolls off. It's so much happening at once, and it's great! Ween, no matter how bizarre or funny they get, keep their insturmentation surprisingly powerful and tight on this album.

Oh by the way. This album is a genre-hopper - you know what I mean. "We're gonna do a bunch of different song styles 'cause we're so talented and eclectic, nyah nyah nyah." Well, yeah. Ween are that talented and eclectic, it turns out! They're not just making fun of a bunch of different song styles - they're writing songs that could be mistaken for straight-up pop and dance songs, really, if we all didn't know they were Ween. Have your mom listen to "Freedom of '76" (old-skoolz r&b), "Joppa Road" (kind of calypso feel here), "Buenas Tardes Amigo" (a seven-minute Spanish spaghetti-western acoustic thing or whatever - it sounds totally authentic, man!), or "What Deaner Was Talkin' About" (straight-up catchy pop). I bet that old fartpuss lady won't realize that they were all recorded as a JOKE! By a JOKE BAND!! (Was it all a joke? I can't tell, please tell me).

Side note, "What Deaner Was Talkin' About." So catchy. I've listened to it about thirteen times on iTunes already (omin-oussss) and hoboy I've only had the album for... like, less than a week. It's so catchy! I have no damn clue what it's about. "The sun comes up, and I'm all washed out/Is this what Deaner was talking about?" What was he talking about? I don't know. But this song makes me so happy!! It's only two minutes long so I have to keep listening to it. I cann't stop

Then okay. There are bizarre songs for all you sicko Residents fans. I don't want to separate the straight-up songs and the messed up ones - it's a disservice to the album, really, since every song flows so guddamn well. Every bizarre song has something conventional in it, every conventional song has something very weird nestled inside.

"Spinal Meningitis" is the weirdest one on the album - and it's the second track so it sets a good tone. Really catchy! And it's from the perspective of a child dying from spinal meningitis. This very unnerving, childlike voice emplores, "Why they wanna see my spine, mommy?/ Why they wanna see my spine?/ It's gonna hurt again, mommy/ much worse than last time." Creepiest part for me is "Am I gonna see God, mommy?" Oh man. This song is like a Residents song, totally. Chorus is very catchy, though. Ween, you sick fucks. Making diseasey jokes like this.

"Mister, Would You Please Help My Pony?" is another very depressing story, involving a kid who's pet pony is dying. "I think it's his lung," the child sings. But it's a happy-dappy, catchy song once again!! You'll find yourself singing along to this kid's desperate pleas to help a poor, defenseless dying animal, and you won't care. Ween have gone beyond the realm of a normal novelty band; they have proven, with this song, that we are all sick little fucks who will sing along to a tune about dying ponies. Hellz yeh mizzlebizzles.

"The HIV Song" is the song to play to your college-kid friends for a quick laugh. If you're nice and shallow, you'll download this song after having a friend play it for you, laugh a bit, and then never think about the song or Ween again. It'll be the cute novelty song between all your Red Hot Chili Peppers and Matisyahu. Basically it's a jaunty little instrumental that stops after every eight measures with the word "AIDS." Or "HIV." Yeah, it's funny. It's pretty much our generation's "Tequila", actually.

It's 4:30 AM and I wanna wrap up the review quickly I guess, so I'll go over some of my other favorite tracks quickly. "Baby Bitch" is a little silly, but it feels like one of the most genuine breakup songs I've ever heard. When Ween says "Fuck you, you stinkin' asshole" to a girl, I don't find it that funny. Well, okay, I do, but mostly because it makes a lot of sense. Doesn't that line just sum up breakups perfectly? Anyway. "A Tear For Eddie," is a REALLY impressive instrumental, "Voodoo Lady" is funktastic, "Drifer in the Dark" and "Don't Shit Where You Eat" are just funny, and "Candi" is just oh so silly. There... I think that's every track. Where's my blowjob.

Hahaahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!11!!!!!!! BLOWJOB

So this album is wonderful, I am saying. And so is this band. If you're a fan of comedy rock - or just music in general - totally buy this album, or download it if you aren't sure, like I did (I want to give them my money now, however). I really can't give you a full assessment on Ween as a band, since this is the first album of theirs I've ever heard. But I'll tell you this - from the sound of this album, they really are one of the most unique groups I've heard in a while. They're poppier than the Residents, they're more diverse than Primus, they're riskier than They Might Be Giants. I'm not implying that they're better than the aforementioned - I love them all in their own ways. But Ween, man.

One last thing about Ween. A friend of mine told me that there's this online reviewer who keeps comparing Ween to the Beatles. No, really. I looked this guy up, and his simple question was, "Why weren't these guys as big as the Beatles?" Now I'm not going to say that Ween are the 90's equivalent of the Beatles. For one thing, that's musical sacrelige. For another thing, it's kind of apples and oranges. They're both wonderful bands. But in all honesty, "Chocolate and Cheese" really reminds me of "The White Album." Think about it! Weren't the Beatles a really fucked up band in their own right? Remember "Wild Honey Pie"? And "Bungalo Bill"? And "Piggies"? And "Good Night"? And "Rocky Raccoon"? And "Why Don't We Do It In The Road"? Hell, even "Savoy Truffle"? They're all pretty fucking Weenish to me, if you want my opinion. Plus, the genre-hopping in CaC is practically as convincing as the White Album, I'm serious. So I hope none of you Beatles diehards find a comparison to Ween as a stupid hipster shit-in-the-face to the band. I don't mean it in that bullshit British music press way. "This random crappy band is the next Beatles! They have a poppy guitar sound!!" Bullshit.

Difference is in perspective, if you want my opinion. The Beatles were a more serious band that liked to fuck around. Ween are a band that enjoy poking fun at musical styles by writing serious songs. I know that doesn't make much sense. But that's how I see it.

...uh, anyway. Maybe my intense admiration for Ween is misguided since I've only heard one of their albums. But it's so good, and I've heard that the rest of their discography is practically just as impressive. Different, but great. I want to actually buy and album of theirs now so maybe I won't get to downloading their entire discography just yet. But still. I'm tempted.

Case in point: College kids of the United States and probably Canada, stop sucking Cake's cock. Yeah, "The Distance" isn't a bad song. And they're decent instrumentalists, I'll give you that. But they're one note, man. There's nothing to them. Trust me. Ween really feel like the real deal. They may just PRETEND to be the real deal - that's the whole joke! But they sound like it anyway!! Pick this shit up.

Before I leave. Why am I so afraid to download albums?? I don't wanna download anymore Ween, I would feel dirty, since I wouldn't genuinely have a hard copy of the album. But you know, all my friends up at UConn seem to have no problem going on DC++ and downloading as many albums as they like. What's with me, people?? this what Deaner was talking about?


Adam said...

Very well done, Sean. Great to see you get into Ween. Concerning "Chocolate and Cheese," it's the most straitlaced and "normal" sounding of Ween's albums... then again, I've only heard two others (GWS and The Mollusk), but while C&C is more diverse than either of those, the songs on both of the aforemention albums, in their uniformity, make the other albums a bit better... if that makes any sense.

GodWeenSatan is largely a rip on 90s-alternative rock. Lots of grungey sounding material before grunge was even popular, and a lot of strange, diverse breaks from the alt-rock atmosphere. "L.M.L.Y.P" is Prince-ier than almost anything Prince ever did (even though two Prince songs are in Ween's spinoff), "Mushroom Festival in Hell" is psychadelic-prog-metal at its finest and, matter of fact "Birthday Boy" is one of the prettiest ballads I've heard in a while, not even sure if it can be taken for any sort of novely (except for the cries of "Pain!" at the start)... it's so serious, it's mentioned in "Baby Bitch."

The Mollusk, on the other hand, has a pretentiously wonderful prog-rock overtone, bringing a genre that's been dead for 30 years, bringing it back to life, and poking fun at it while it's still alive. The boys also manage to mess with sunshine pop ("Ocean Man"), ska ("Waving My Dick In the Wind") and Irish drinking songs ("The Blarney Stone" - one of their laugh-out-loud standouts).

Both of these albums are not only highly recommended, but it might be in their structure that cause them to hold together so well. In comparison, C&C just seems a little bit sloppy and not quite as durable. You may disagree, but C&C wears thin a bit more easily than the other two albums.

All that aside, C&C is still an excellent album with some great songs. I loved your comparison of "The HIV Song" to "Tequilla," analysis of "Pony," and of course, the jab at the British music press. Huzzah.

A few bones to pick - I think you've been duped by "A Tear for Eddie," which is supposed to sound sincere and modestly profound, yet it just repeats the same simple guitar licks over and over - a clever trick from the Weeners. Personally, "Candi" gets on my nerves, the only Ween song I know to do so. It's probably supposed to get on my nerves but that doesn't make it good. And lastly, you forgot one song, which happens to be my favorite on the album - "I Can't Put My Finger On It." What's not to love about middle-eastern alt-rock with a random calm sounds-of-the-sea interlude?

So, pick up the other two soon. If you feel that guilty about it, we can go to Best Buy and you can pick them up back here. Actually, fuck Best Buy, they don't have Ween albums. Just download them.

Adam (1 year later) said...

Wow I didn't know I left such a thorough response to this review. Geez.

Anyway, I just wanted to add, in retrospect, that your comments about mothers rings very true. I played "What Deaner Was Talkin' About" on guitar one day and my mom overheard me and inquired as to who wrote such a lovely song.

And Chocolate and Cheese has held up a lot better than I thought it would a year ago. I still love it to death.

Okay, I'm gonna go write my La Cucaracha review. Too bad I won't be able to quote lines like "She's gonna be my cock professor studying my dick/She's gonna get her Master's degree in fucking me" in the paper. Balls.