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(Asphodel; US: 6 Mar 2001)

Uh-Oh! is the title of Tipsy’s second album, but it isn’t a cry of fear or horror. It’s more like the outburst cartoon characters give right before they fall off a cliff or crash into a wall. Indeed, everything the San Francisco-based duo does has the playfulness and irreverence of Saturday morning cartoons. They combine multiple genres, goofy and surreal noises, and a trancelike state, reminiscent of the repeating lines in hip-hop jams but with more of a random feeling to it, and form them into their own brilliantly fun creations.

Hawaiian music, ‘60s pop, jazz, commercial themes, radio fuzz, space-age sirens, lounge, exotica, TV and radio show theme songs, and all sorts of bubbles, whirs and blips come together throughout the 18 tracks on Uh-Oh!. A handful of styles and genres emanate at once from each track, yet the album overall maintains a uniquely out-of-this-world atmosphere. The blending and blurring of genres, plus the bombastic attitude of it all, give the album its own musical character, one drawing from all over the place plus still unlike anything else you’ve heard.

The album kicks off with “Hard Petting”, a retro pop tune, and then floats into “Papaya Freeway”, a jazzy lounge theme a la Martin Denny, but with evocative vocal clips, snippets of faux game show theme music, and more futuristic touches, including the sound of a modem connecting. Each track on Uh-Oh! is like this; there’s a few genre templates but then other sounds and styles come in and out. “Reverse Cowgirl” visits country & western territory (though more like music for an imagined Old West radio show than genuine country), while “Fur Teacup” evokes spooky theme music for a mystery or horror show or film.

Tipsy creates music that has the creative energy of improvised jazz, and often brings to mind other jazz musicians who worked with theme music or cartoon music (especially Raymond Scott), but voraciously takes on all sorts of cool music from the last century. The funny noises, fast pace and odd juxtapositions make this extremely cartoonish music, yet it should be taken seriously. It’s funny and fun, yet it’s also showcases a truly fresh musical direction, one both ambitious and fully realized.

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tagged as: tipsy | uh-oh
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