June 06, 2003

Kasper Hauser 'The TIn Can Gong"

There's something so whole, so pure about a person sittin' on their porch, with nothin' but their guitar, dog, emotional baggage, and a tape recorder. Sure, some artists who do this are quite smug (hi, Mountain Goats!) and others are just crap (hi there, you know who you are!)--but still, the emotional release that's found in such simple work can often be more complex, meaningful than a big studio production.

While the music on Kaspar Hauser's new record, The Tin Can Gong isn't quite as simple as the above-mentioned pickin' & grinnin', it ain't that far from there, either. Like a more sparse Centro-matic, or perhaps a less tense Uncle Tupelo, Kaspar Hauser is down-home rock at its finest. They're dirty enough and greasy enough to be the real-deal, proving they're blue-collar and short a dollar. I'm sure I could be totally wrong about who Kaspar Hauser are, but I know that they're not a pretty boy and girl pretending to be siblings, nor are they the sons of privledge trying to pass as sons of toil.

While I'm still not totally sure who they are, I do know this: they're certainly the antithesis of rich-kid blues "rock." Unlike other bands, Kaspar Hauser hit the wrong notes at exactly the wrong time--and they make it sound oh-so right. From looking at the pictures on the cover, you could easily think that they are a bunch of guys who own a gas station/garage and who jam right after the sun goes down. Much like Guided by Voices, Built to Spill, or, yes, even Modest Mouse, they seem like a band who are probably more rockin' when it's just them, their friends, and a case or two of cheap beer.

Music-wise, The Tin Can Gong sounds like an extenstion of the ideas Tweedy and Farrar came up with on Anoydine, which is helped along by the fact that lead singer Tom Comerford sounds remarkably like Farrar on an Archers of Loaf trip--meaning he sounds a great deal like Centro-matic's Will Johnson. All of the songs on here are lo-fi diamonds in the rough. Personally, I'm fond of the mellowed-out "Minor League," "Ballad of a Jester," and the closing "Storms/Windows' Drops of Rain." Even though they're Chicago-based, they have that wonderful West Texas roadtrip vibe to them, which makes me happy. Rock 's not dead, it just works on automatic transmissions during the day. Trust Kaspar Hauser with your car--and your rock.

--Joseph Kyle

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