Super XX Man: Volume V

Jason Thompson

Super Xx Man

Volume V

Label: Post-Parlo
US Release Date: 2001-06-12

If you've been keeping up with yours truly this year, then you know I absolutely frothed over Those Peabodys. So it was with much excitement that I received Super XX Man's latest release Volume V a short time back. I was excited because Super XX Man (a.k.a. Scott Garred) is on the same label as Those Peabodys (Post-Parlo) and I was hoping for more of that musical excitement that I encountered with their album. Well, as the old saying sometimes goes: "fat chance".

Scott Garred has that kind of voice that's all soft and cuddly and just this close to breaking out into a weep that you just want to pick him up and tell him everything's gonna be OK. I believe Garred could possibly be one of the reasons why singer/songwriters went out of style a while back. He's so fey at times that you just want to beg him to stop singing about himself and his lost loves in his cute little voice. C'mon man, if you want me to feel your music here, you're gonna have to do better than sounding like Rodney Anonymous from the Dead Milkmen, minus the attitude.

First of all, I'd like to say that I don't like the drum sound on this disc at all. I don't know if the drums are real or created from one of those old processors with the pads on them, but they sound horrible. They're mixed so loudly that, more often than not, they threaten to drown out the vocals. Plus they just sound really thin and cheap (hence the question of their organic nature). Secondly, Garred has an infuriating habit of repeating the same lines in a few songs here, over and over. Look, it doesn't get any better after you've said it the fifth time. This crime is committed straight out of the gate with the opening track "Generosity". "If you know where you're going you can get there through me / If you know where you're going you can get there through me / If you know where you're going you can get there through me / Generosity" warbles Garred. And then he does it again.

From there, it's the repeated "You dream fast and I'll dream slow / Where we'll stop no one will know", complete with incredibly bad electric guitar squalls, on "You Dream Fast"; "What do you want now?" in "Playing Our Song"; and the amazingly irritating "It's a lonely old night, I need you / It's a lonely old night, I need you / It's a lonely old night, I need you / Ooh ooh-ooh ooh-ooh" in "Lonely Old Night". And they just keep repeating. It's kind of like Paul McCartney's already banal lyrics from "My Love" stripped down even more and dipped into sweet goo. Frankly, it hurts.

When Garred does get around to singing some actual lyrics, they're not much better. On "All Night Diners" we are treated to "Why do people cry in all night diners? / Why do they say goodbye so soon?" and "Why do people die at all night funerals? / Why do they send flowers to the moon?" Why does Scott Garred write such goofy stuff? is a better question. He says Volume V was born "out of optimism, love and lots of it". It seems to me it was created out of belly-button gazing, too much sugar, and Romper Room. When I'm faced with such candle-gazing lines as "Do you believe all the lies inside your answer? / I believe I know the truth is buried inside" (from "House, Haunted"), I know I'm ready to pull poor Scotty out of whatever awful writers' workshop he was thrown into.

"I miss you so sincerely / And I miss you so completely / And I miss you so ridiculously / Why do you let me miss you?" asks "Miss You So Sincerely" while "Garage Apartment" moans "I need another chance / I want another chance / I need another chance / I need another chance to be with you" ad nauseam, as Garred's voice all chokes up. OK, I think I can stop citing all the things that really bug me about this album. Hopefully, you catch my drift after all these examples. Simply put, Volume V is precocious and fragile and if you dropped the CD it's contained on, all the songs might just shatter (which might not be a bad thing).

I have no idea how the preceding volumes of Super XX Man's work have sounded, and honestly I don't want to find out. Garred points out that his recording mentor Dave McNair refers to the songs here as Scott's "classic rock". Well it's not close to classic and as far as rocking goes, Scott could stand to get a little angry now and then instead of curling up into a fuzzy little ball. I mean, it certainly couldn't hurt anything. Could it?

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.