Andras Jones: A Curmudgeon for All Seasons

Andras Jones
A Curmudgeon for All Seasons
Great Big Island
2000-11-24

Andreas Jones is a touring musician, a promoter, radio host, and actor (he perused a 14-year-old Drew Barrymore in Far From Home, was Kruger-Fu-Ed in Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and starred in Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama). A curmudgeon, according to author Jon Winokur, is “Anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner.” By my accounting, Jones scores about four and a half out of five here; these aren’t the wittiest songs I’ve ever heard, but they’re pointed and ingratiating. The obvious problem with concept music is that often the concept is stronger than the music. The concept behind this one (a collation of anti-holiday songs) could lend itself very easily to novelty songs of the “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” ilk, but Jones’s aim is more satirical and, as the title says, curmudgeonly.

His concept is reasonably strong, and his music — well, it teeters, but the album lands just this side of the “creditable idea, lousy execution” box. “Another X-Mas Song” is a string and bell laden paean to Grinches and Scrooges, “Frankenstein Valentine” is what might be termed “sick country” (“Mary, shall we take a half an hour to analyze that monster you’ve chained up between your thighs?”), “April 19th”, which appears in both an original and “fuckless radio edit” remembers Waco in a way that Bill Hicks would admire, and “Hold Your Nose And Vote” is an observant song about observing election day. Another drawback to this kind of music is that it’s easy to come off both naive and terribly earnest, and Jones does not completely avoid that trap, especially on “Flashback Barbecue” and “Thwak!”. It is not likely coincidental that both these songs concern animal rights, not a cause whose supporters are not known for their sophistication and sense of humor.

Jones says in the liner notes that these songs sound like demos to him, and he’d love to hear other artists do “full-fledged” versions of them. He’s not wrong; “Firecracker Kid” is would-be disco, but (as recorded here) it sounds like disco made by people who don’t want to admit that it takes more craft and skill than they can summon. The most traditionally “folksy” song on the album is “Three Day Weekend,” which also contains it’s best lyric: “I’ll admit I’ve got a faster modem but I think I’ve got a slower brain.”

Basically, I can recommend you get yourself to Jones’s website where you can download some if not all of the songs, but I don’t know that I can tell you to buy the CD. Only demos, after all.

Or, in the words of many schoolteachers, what you’ve done is quite reasonable, Mr. Jones, but can you imagine if you applied yourself?

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