June 03, 2002

East River Pipe "Shining Hours In a Can"

I own exactly one original Sarah record, a ten-inch mini LP by East River Pipe entitled Goodbye California. It's a lovely record, well worth the money I spent for it, and is a simply amazingly charming record. What's more amazing about this record is that, when listening to the last East River Pipe, 1999's The Gasoline Age, there's very little room for comparison between the two. It's not because one is better than the other--far from it. In fact, they sound like contemporaries. It's the damndest thing. F.M. Cornog's music doesn't age, it doesn't change all that much--he's a very consistent songwriter.

Shining Hours in a Can--originally released in 1994 on Ajax, and out of print for a few years now--is prime East River Pipe. This handy little collection compiles up all of the early singles and EP's released for the fabled Sarah records, as well as a few odds-and-sods tracks. It's easy to understand why Sarah label honcho Matt Haynes wanted Cornog to sign to his label, as the songs on here are nothing short of small, lo-fi works of art.

Did I mention that these songs are almost all "lo-fi" in nature? Yeah, I didn't--because to the casual listener, such limitations to recording wouldn't be easily detected. Cornog has a way with recording, and his songs--almost all of the basic gutiar, vocals, keyboard, and drum machine variety--really resonate with a shining charm that makes the limitations of the recording seem much less apparent. Add to it that Cornog's musical sound is really aligned to a more traditional, FM-rock radio style, and you've got yourself a recipe for goodness.

While it may be a while for the next East River Pipe opus--Cornog's an enigmatic fellow who never tours, never plays live, doesn't have a band, and releases records when he wants to--Shining Hours In A Can is a nice little appetite-filler..and it's more than likely that next opus won't sound too different than this. A fine scrapbook of early pictures of one of today's most underrated songwriters.

--Joseph Kyle

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