February 25, 2007

Pudding or Jell-O? But Why Not Have Both?

FAR TOO OFTEN IN LIFE, one finds oneself confronted with tough decisions, decisions which frequently result in wildly different outcomes. For instance, let's say one is in the market for an extremely nice watch. Generally speaking, a watchbuyer may spend his money on a flashy design, even though the watch's guts are nothing special; or he may buy a very nice complicated watch which gets little notice at all, even though it is far superior to the flashy model.

On another level, let's say that one is in the mood for a light dessert after a simple meal, and one can have either pudding or Jell-O. The Jell-O is the flashy and retro and ironic dessert, even though one would rather not know how it is made, whilst the pudding is a God-fearing, Depression-era sweet: it does the job, but it's boring.

The music business, to my mind, doesn't seem much different these days. Generally speaking, one can choose to listen to the catchy pop standards mass-produced in Los Angeles, and live vicariously through the wretched antics of their singers; or one can choose to listen to quality, hand-crafted music not designed with demographics in mind.

But then, once in a while, there comes along music which has the potential to change the landscape; music which takes the quantity v. quality argument and boils it down to dialectic harmony. It is music which stirs the soul and gets one moving and which stays with one, but also has the potential to reach a wide audience on the radio. Simply put, it is music with which clever industry people would do really well if they made certain investments in it. It is proof that one can find well-made and slick-looking watches, and proof that one can have pudding and Jell-O at the same time. (Here's other proof, but I digress).

The music of which I speak is found in the excellent self-titled debut album from Mouth of Wilson, a band from central New Jersey which rocks the house harder than the '94 Northridge earthquake.

Through way of full disclosure, I ought mention that Simon From Jersey, whom Loyal Rant Readers know is one of my best friends and a guy I've known for more than two decades, is Mouth of Wilson's drummer. That makes this post even more cool, because one of my best friends is the drummer for my favorite band. That's like crazy good karma, if you ask me.

To be blunt about it, Mouth of Wilson is the best album I've heard in a long, long time. For one thing, it's actually an album. You can put it in the CD player and -- wait for it -- listen to the whole thing without skipping around trying to find the album's one good song. That's because all the songs are good on the album, while four of them are downright great. The four great songs on the album -- "Heavy," "Goodbye Hello," "Anything and Everything," and "Not All in Vain" -- have real radio potential and are just downright fantastic.

Loyal Rant Readers know I'm in no way a music critic, but I do like to think I know a winner when I see it, and Mouth of Wilson's album falls into this category. I mean, I've been listening to this CD in my car for the past three days, and I've also been playing it at home. There are points on this album where you're grooving along with the music and you think, "Boy, did they hit a home run with that." Not only is the music good, the lyrics are fantastic too.

In sum, Mouth of Wilson's debut is just an extremely good record -- a record one can listen to again and again, and as such receives The Rant's Quality Seal of Approval. I think my readers would really, really like it. Also, given the state of the record industry these days, clever A&R executives also might really, really like it. In my view, the product is certainly strong enough so that listeners would actually, you know, buy the CD as opposed to going online and stealing the one decent song from some pop starlet's sophomore offering.

Copies of Mouth of Wilson's CD may be bought on-line at CD Baby, the independent record store. The cost is $12 each (shipping a wee bit extra).

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at February 25, 2007 11:32 PM | TrackBack
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