FAME Review: Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad - Subject to Change
Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad - Subject to Change

Subject to Change

Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad

Robot Records - RR007

Available from CD Baby.

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

When it's time to shuffle off this mortal shithole coil, I'm more and more knowing I'll go with a smile because artists in Generations X, Y, Z, and LMNOP have achieved to heights we Baby Boomers could only dream of. Sure, the 60s and 70s were a fucking wonderland of insane marvels, but I aver, much to my fellow critics' chagrin, bastard egotists that they are, that the bulk of the children of the 60s have been outstripped, and it's only evolutionary that this should be so, that we goddam well should be. After all, if succeeding generations do not one-up what came before, then what failures can we ascribe to the progenitors? Answer: all the problems. Take heed, fellow Boomers.

It's been the way-outside individuals and ensembles like Sipo, Cuddle Magic, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, Chocolate Horse, and so many others which have informed my cynical critic's bastard consciousness that art is imperishable, that it rides towards no terminus, and that it must ceaselessly re-consume itself to arise Phoenix-like from sidereal vectors in order to pose new enigmas. Birdie Num Num and the Spirit Squad and its Subject to Change are the sort of work that provokes such ruminations. They remind me of what I felt ages ago when happening across Tyrannosaurus Rex, Blue Oyster Cult, Blue Cheer, Pearls Before Swine, the Incredible String Band, and other unapologetic misfits who were bloodbound to break down barriers, ignore the mainstream and its corporate banalities, and dive headfirst into amalgams of past and future confabulations.

Subject to Change is one of those odd albums wherein instruments, effects, and found sounds sit atop echoed vocals, immediately imbuing the doom-laden CD with a sense of struggling humanity already covered over with oppression. The ensemble's atmospherics and rhythms are decidedly progressive and psychedelic with more than a little of The Stooges' We Will Fall vibe well distributed (check out Infinite especially). Joe Montone's keyboards are absolutely crucial to the CD's sound, sometimes akin to Ray Manzarek's (Doors), other times Rick Wrightian (Pink Floyd), always lurking just under the pounding guitars and double-drumming. Within that fiery hellbrew, the bass guitar becomes almost an organic outgrowth of the keys. Guitarist Joe Ujj rants ceaselessly, pissed as hell, irately morose in his vocal work, shouting up from the dungeon that the end approacheth, slubgobs shamble forth, and dire ancient portents have become as though today's holy writ. The CD and its infernal sonic theatrics won't be for everyone—I don't, f'rinstance, see fans of Slayer flocking to its banner—but for those of a progressive bent, this is one of those oddities providing lots of offbeat fare.

Track List:

  • The Creek
  • Lipstick Hate
  • Infinite
  • Everyone Deserves the Same Thing
  • Your Majesty
  • Ride the Pony
  • Storm Witch
  • Lucky Old Sun
  • Token of Home
No writing credits given.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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