Music

Wreckless Eric: amERICa

amERICa is a reminder of everything that was both exhilarating and unhinged during those heady days when punk and pop found common ground.


Wreckless Eric

amERICa

Lebel: Fire
Release Date: 2015-11-13
Amazon
iTunes

One of the earliest signings to Britain’s renegade Stiff Records -- the same stable of artists that fostered Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Ian Drury early on -- Wreckless Eric fashioned a persona that was odd, irreverent, and flush with pure attitude. His initial appearance on the label’s auspicious early sampler, A Bunch of Stiffs, quickly established him as a personality to be reckoned with, but it was his subsequent single, "(I'd Go The) Whole Wide World," that made him a star and quickly established his career.

Eric eventually grew disgruntled with Stiff and its efforts to manipulate his music, causing him to venture out on his own. The Wreckless Eric brand produced less than half a dozen efforts, but he went on to record under a number of different guises: the Captains of Industry, the Len Bright Combo, Le Beat Group Electrique, the Hitsville House Band and his given name, Eric Goulden. He switched his base of operation -- from England to France and eventually to Upstate New York -- where he currently resides with his significant other, singer/songwriter Amy Rigby. The two have recorded several albums together over the course of the past ten years, an eponymous debut, a sophomore set called A Working Museum and another dubbed Two Way Family Favorites, but Eric’s solo output has been pretty much nil over the past decade.

Happily then, his new release, amERICa, slyly named for his adopted country and dedicated to its particular attributes large and small, shows an undiminished enthusiasm that revels in that pure punk attitude of old. The topics are mainly autobiographical in nature; “I carried a case full of dirty clothes halfway around the world / When luggage was smaller and the chances were plenty...” he reflects on the song “Transitory Thing”. Elsewhere, he marvels at the circumstance that’s been so integral to his life as a wayfaring musician, the sense of desperation (“Property Shows”), reasons for regret (“Days of My Life”), the need to get ahead (“Up the Fuselage”), and, of course, the fleeting futility of pursuing fame and fortune (“Boy Band”).

Likewise, the music shows Eric’s snot-nosed perspective and generally dismissive attitude. Guitars are feverishly strummed, loops and drones cascade in an out at the most unexpected intervals and chamber pop arrangements form the musical core. Rigby plays piano and banjo and supplies vocal harmonies, augmenting contributions from Brian Dewan on keyboards, Alexander Turnquist on e-bow guitar and the ever-reliant Jane Scarpantoni on cello. Eric does the rest, and the results are notably woozy, thanks to the cascade of noise and loosely spun enthusiasm that dominates the album overall.

As has been the case throughout his career, Wreckless Eric is a singular sensation, generally unpredictable but always without reserve. amERICa provides a welcome return, as well as a reminder of everything that was both exhilarating and unhinged during those heady days when indeed punk and pop found common ground.

7

Director Spotlight: Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock helped to create the modern horror genre, the modern thriller, and the modern black comedy. He changed film, even as he was inventing new ways to approach it. Stay tuned through October as we present our collection of essays on the Master of Suspense.

Film

'Psycho': The Mother of All Horrors

Psycho stands out not only for being one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films, it is also one of his most influential. It has been a template and source material for an almost endless succession of later horror films, making it appropriate to identify it as the mother of all horror films.

Francesc Quilis
Film

The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti (By the Book)

With discussions of characters like Leon Ray Livingston (a.k.a. "A-No. 1"), credited with consolidating the entire system of hobo communication in the 1910s, and Kathy Zuckerman, better known as the surf icon "Gidget", Susan A. Phillips' lavishly illustrated The City Beneath: A Century of Los Angeles Graffiti, excerpted here from Yale University Press, tells stories of small moments that collectively build into broad statements about power, memory, landscape, and history itself.

Susan A. Phillips
Books

The 10 Best Indie Pop Albums of 2009

Indie pop in 2009 was about all young energy and autumnal melancholy, about the rush you feel when you first hear an exciting new band, and the bittersweet feeling you get when your favorite band calls it quits.

Music
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2018 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.