PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Virgin Islands: Ernie Chambers V. God

Virgin Islands don’t really have much to say that you couldn’t figure out on your own, but they bring the noise in a well-crafted retro-inspired package.

Virgin Islands

Ernie Chambers V. God

Label: The Control Group
US Release Date: 2011-05-10
UK Release Date: Import
Online Release Date: 2011-05-09

A recent history lesson is in order here, as you may be wondering who the Ernie Chambers is that is mentioned in the title of the debut full-length album from Seattle-based post-punk band Virgin Islands. Well, Chambers was a former Nebraska state senator, who was often called “the angriest black man in Nebraska” because he was something of a maverick. In 2007, Chambers filed a lawsuit against God, asking the deity to “cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats... of grave harm to innumerable persons". It might have seemed like a joke, but Chambers was actually trying to make a point against what he thought were frivolous lawsuits being brought before the courts in his state by putting forth a crazy lawsuit himself. Ultimately, the Nebraska Court of Appeals eventually dismissed Chambers’ case on the grounds that the court “does not address or dispose of abstract questions or issues that might arise in [a] hypothetical or fictitious situation or setting". So much for that, then.

In many ways, just like the real life Ernie Chambers, Virgin Islands rail against injustices (real or perceived), a crumbling society and – well, maybe not in the case of Chambers – leeches who steal your pot, smoke your last cigarette and drink all your beer. Lyrically, then, Virgin Islands can be written off as just another band bitching about the state of the world with nothing particularly meaningful to say: they doth complain too much. Musically, on the other hand, Virgin Islands have a peppy vitality that recalls the very early post-punk work of XTC just without the humor and geekiness. “No Doctor” opens the album with a cacophonic squall of noise, before lurching into a galloping track propelled by bassist Charles Keller, who really brings the low end to this album in spades. In fact, Keller’s playing – a sort of heavy, sub-woofer rattling sound – really is the highlight of Ernie Chambers V. God, as his lines are exactly what you tend to follow as the record wears on. They’re groovy, they’re danceable, and they make up for any deficiencies in the wordsmithing department. Virgin Islands don’t really have much to say that you couldn’t figure out on your own, but they bring the noise in a well-crafted retro-inspired package. That makes Ernie Chambers V. God a delightful collection of 11 songs that will shake the windows of your house and make you want to pogo around the room of your dwelling that happens to have a stereo. For that, I’m sure that the real life Ernie Chambers would be proud to have his name attached to this record.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.