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Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard - 'Em Are I

'Em Are I

Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard

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A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

With the recent successes of comic books and the movies, a few of the graphic artists are feeling a bit spunkier than they probably should. Jeffrey Lewis is a case in point. From the very little I've seen he's a third-string artist along the lines of Chester Brown (who made it to second-string through a highly unorthodox talent) throwing his hat in the ring as a rocker / punker / quasi-folker as well and should probably hold off a bit longer. The biggest obstacle is his voice, a monotonic and completely untrained instrument that compromises most of the material here. What's being reached for is 'mundanely ironic' but what's achieved is 'dork' (ironically the title for a series by a very funny comix artist, Evan Dorkin).

He and the band are fundamentally competent, not much beyond that, and there's a rudimentary folkish, proto-rocky baseline but it doesn't range very far from the downbeat. The lead cut bangs around as though it were still 1985 and CBGB yet open. There's a bit of rock-ish jug (Whistle Past the Graveyard) and, frankly, this may well be his best-bet forte as the style is wide open to what Lewis is doing. As a garage effort, there's a lot going for the CD…again, if neither polished vocals nor a very wide chordal and compositional milieu are criteria for you. I'd even go so far as to say there's a fair amount of promise for future releases, it just isn't all that well met here. Were the many explorations as interesting as the mostly instrumental The Upside-Down Cross, a cut written by the guitarist and a great piece of psyche, then this would be a much different review.

Track List:

  • Slogans
  • Roll Bus Roll
  • If Life Exists (?)
  • Broken Broken Broken Heart
  • Whistle Past
  • The Graveyard
  • To Be Objectified
  • The Upside-Down Cross
  • Bugs & Flowers
  • Good Old Pig, Gone to Avalon
  • It's not Impossible
  • Mini-Theme: Minnie the Moocher from the Future

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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