Thoughts on “Macaroni,” “Greeed,” “Can’t Stop the War,”
“Gov’t”? To formats that are yanked from Hip Hop, R&B, Punk, Funk, Pop, and
Experimental genres? A musician can make sounds that are genius incarnate. But
if he or she can’t make those sounds ear-friendly, that musician’s output will
tend to dwell in a sort of vacuum, enjoyed by a limited coterie of high-brow
followers. Talk about “indie cred”!
Categories and definitions are rendered moot when an artist
follows tracks that are annoyingly dissonant and/or self-indulgent with
material that’s just engaging enough to keep a disgruntled listener from
yanking the music off or out of their iPad, turntable, or CD player. That
relatively engaging music is then followed by Pop that’s so tasty (“Afterschool”), it could have sprung from Sparks or the Raspberries.
Thus, more or less, is it with Bobby Conn.
Just when you want to shut the brat (who actually blares, “Nyah, nyah,
nyah” during the Ramones-riffing “Face Blind”) up in his room, he does
something so good and/or original, you’re forced to pour him a glass of grape
juice (along with a plate of sedatives that look bright and tempting as Jujubes). It’s only fair.
‘Cause you can’t just do away with someone who concocts
sounds with the kinetic chutzpah of Stockhausen or Branca, which are mixed into
or next to sounds that could provide outro music for a blaxploitation flick.
There’s something about Conn that you feel would be fiercely defended by a
critic like Nat Hentoff; who’d say something along the lines of defending
Conn’s right to do it, and/or that our generally bland, comfort-loving,
contemporary Western culture needs the pokes in the arm and brain that are only
likely to come from a composer who can string sounds together with such
idiosyncrasy, and occasional brilliance. Conn’s
pointing up the horrors behind comfort-food banality, along with the sense of
hopelessness re: changing anything we hate that’s happening in the world… to
music that alternates magnetic engagement with “F…k you” sarcasm. Sometimes,
in one song.
Gee, thanks, Bobby. No, really. I mean it.
DOWNLOAD: “Afterschool,” “Gov’t,” Can’t Stop the War,”
“Underground Vktm,” “The Truth” MARY LEARY