Track listing: Overture, 2nd Gun, Trunk of My Car, Joe Jaxon, In Green, Fisticuffs, Echo Park, New Brad, Mostly on an Island, Around the Dream, Goodbye, Casio, By No Means, Firebombing London, Shouting Across the Water, Byron's 24th Christmas, Two Exclamation PointsVolcano, I'm Still Excited!! are impossible to pigeonhole with pat comparisons to other bands or even generalized styles of music, and that's exactly what makes their eponymous CD so much fun. It's as if they threw small bits of various influences into a blender, added large doses of quirky originality and loose but masterful composition and ended up with something completely new.
This is not to say that the end result is always easily palatable. Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! is a 16-song disc that, had it been placed in the hands of a fast-buck hungry major label, would probably have been edited down considerably. Yet it is the inclusion of the more off-the-wall tracks that fosters the atmosphere of pure creativity that permeates this release.
The songs in which all the myriad elements work together the best are true standouts. "New Brad" is a disturbingly funny take on the stalker-like behavior in which many of us have found ourselves partaking in the face of a break-up. "I'm breaking inside/ Your window wasn't open like you promised/ I've turned into that guy/ They told me this would happen when I broke up with you," vocalist and organist Mark Duplass sings over a deceptively perky, jumpy guitar.
In another amusing juxtaposition of styles, "Trunk of my Car" starts out with a simple, acappella melody sung in rounds, like "Frère Jacques," before churning into a maelstrom of swirling sound. Amid the chaos Duplass continues to ask, "Love are you hiding underneath my bed?/ Love are you riding in the trunk of my car?" like a little boy trying to coax out the boogeyman he knows is there, hiding just out of sight.
Duplass's laid-back vocal style, (at times reminiscent of Sebadoh's Lou Barlow) and generally Spartan lyrics play nicely off the array of emotions conveyed through the music. The lyrics to the excellent "Mostly on an Island" are just that, but between the words the notes seem to be saying so much more.
Many of the songs ("Joe Jaxon," "Around the Dream," "In Green," "Fisticuffs," "Shouting Across the Water") have a distinctly early 80's, new wave, Brit-pop sound to them. The guitar, synthesizer, and drums at times bring the Cure to mind but the songs still sound wholly unique thanks to the band's peculiar blend of sounds. One of the most notable elements of this blend is the prominent use of the organ and synthesizer. In places, the organ at first sounds quite out of place--almost as if the organist from the local church intruded on the recording sessions. The more you listen, however, the more the non-traditional instrumentation begins to grow on you--you realize that it's the way the band expertly walks the line between random sounds and deliberately executed songcraft that gives them their appeal.