By: Dennis Cook
This is primo weird rock – a seedless, stemless stank blossom that makes you see new colors and twist the night away with a green fairy. It shares some cosmic resonance with singular albums like The Small Faces' Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake, David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name, Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue, Tribalistas (grand one-off from Marisa Monte, Arnaldo Antunes and Carlinhos Brown), Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything? and Dr. John's Babylon - each very much their own beast separate from the greater flock, drifting into our lives with wooly, wild charm, existing to stir the shit and make us salivate and shiver. Each is touched by deep sweetness and deep strangeness, and in these respects Surfing (Vapor Records) overflows, a steady rolling tangle of loose wires and dangling participles that caresses odd vibrancy and sneaks in a few dense statements amidst the mishmash. More simply, this invites us to play in a sandbox full of adult toys and there's no rules to get in the way of our fun.
Megapuss is the brainchild of Devendra Banhart and Greg Rogove (Priestbird), and their coconspirators include Strokes' drummer Fabrizio Moretti, the multi-talented Noah Georgeson and producer-engineer extraordinaire Thom Monahan. Listed simply as "contributors," the long list of merrymakers comes without instrument credits or anything of the sort, and one suspects an organic, everything goes attitude prevailed during these sessions. That said, there's sturdy architecture to their warbled constructs. This is not just random musings; there's intelligence behind their skipping rock, which leaves plenty of ripples in its wake. From effervescent pop opener "Crop Circle Jerk '94" (a '70s AM radio nuzzler despite the bawdy title) to bounding, upfront shakers like "Theme From Hollywood" (with its grinning meow-meow-meow kitty choir) to the gorgeous drift of the title cut and closing pair "Older Lives" and "Another Mother," each chapter has its own weight and measure. One has to dig through the booklet - past dick nosed gentlemen, love puddles, newfangled odes on post-modern urns and hirsute nudies – to even find the track listing, implying this album is designed to be experienced, placed on the spinning device and allowed to run around your room, singing, "I used to see fire in the sky, now I see rainbows," as they rush to give away all their lovin'.
They also chant, "Fuck the President in the asshole…Fuck the police in the asshole/ Fuck the pastors touchin' our baby boys' assess," over a Bo Diddley beat on "A Gun On His Hip and a Rose On His Chest," which mutates like slow twisting metal to extend their one-finger salute to Enron and other worthies. It's remarkably cathartic, like much of Surfing, inducing laughter and sighs in pretty much equal measures. Maybe it'll be the beachside croon of "Chicken Titz" that thwacks your funny bone or the white bean & basil eating "Duck People Duck Man" ("Don't tell me we look like ducks, that's a stereotype!"), but you'd have to be a pulse-less drone to fully resist an album so enthusiastic in its smarty-pants silliness.
Surfing is pretty unlike anything Rogove or Banhart have hoisted on the planet before, and, in its way, finds them carrying on the good work of the Bonzo Dog Band, The Holy Modal Rounders and other whimsical mischief-makers. It's a great family tree and Megapuss is a bright, green leaf, an inducement to smile on one another, join hands and let feelings flow. Sometimes we need a jester's bop on our noggin for things to come into perspective.
Speaking of whimsy, here's the video for "Adam and Steve" with the cheeky monkeys in full swing. Warning homophobes: You may be stimulated by this capering and then wonder what to do about your new feelings.
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