You know what's really disturbing about this album cover?
It's not the creepy Twilight Zone look on the ventriloquist dummy's face, or the Battle of the Network Stars jumpsuit he's wearing. Yes, he reminds me of Jamie Farr getting ready to battle fellow swarthy star Gabe Kaplan on the obstacle course, but that's not what creeps me out.
And, no, it's not the even creepier look that Geraldine is sporting. The last woman I saw with that hairstyle and that dress wound up getting married at Graceland.
And, no, it's not the album's weird "Trees Talk Too" title. I have no idea what that means, unless it's an attempt to mock the dummy and his Wooden-American heritage. But that would be both cruel and pointless, like trying to correct President Bush's grammar.
No, the most disturbing thing about this album is that it's an audio recording of a ventriloquist act. Let that sink in. Maybe it's for people who just love the witty banter of a ventriloquist act, but don't want to see that even a modicum of skill is involved. Who knows? Who cares?
Alright, it's time for the Friday Random Ten. For those of you just now emerging from a coma, the rules are simple. Take out your iPod or imitationPod, set in on random, and give us the first ten songs that rear their ugly heads. And if you'd like to step it up a notch, throw in a Coolness Self Audit as well.
Here's mine for this week. Big bucks, big bucks!! No whammies!!
1. Archers of Loaf, "Might" -- This might be the pinnacle of indie rock, as far as I'm concerned. One of the scorching, angsty songs from the outstanding Icky Mettle CD, which was rightfully named Album of the Year by Interview and "a near perfect guitar rock album" by Spin. If this isn't in your collection, do yourself -- nay, do America a favor and put it there. 9/10
2. MF Doom and RZA, "Biochemical Equation" -- Pretty straightforward hiphop, but not really as good as either of them can be on their own. Sorry, fellas, but some marriages just weren't meant to be. 5/10
3. The Go! Team, "Junior Kickstart" -- This Brighton band is starting to become a hipster fixture, and for good reason. This is a nice assault of horns, harmonica and guitars from their first EP, and it sounds like the theme song to a '70s cop show. Which is, of course, a Good Thing. 10/10
4. The Swallows, "It Ain't the Meat" -- A dirty little R&B song from the '50s. With a none-too-subtle chorus of "It ain't the meat, it's the motion" you tend to overlook verses like this: "You find some girls who are big and fat / Some fellas don't like to see 'em like that / But I like to see 'em big and tall / The bigger they come, the harder they fall." 7/10
5. The Magnetic Fields, "Love Goes Home to Paris in the Spring" -- Stephin Merritt creates some of the most perfect pop songs, and this is one of his best. The usual pairing of his melancholy voice with the almost toylike guitars is just right. Brilliant. 9/10
6. Radiohead, "Wish You Were Here" -- A cover of the Pink Floyd classic from Radiohead's B-Sides collection. I love the original and love the band covering it, but something just doesn't work completely here. Maybe it's the fact that the strings now remind me of the musical assassins in "Kung Fu Hustle." Yeah, that might be it. 6/10
7. Nazareth, "Hair of the Dog" -- This is a perfect follow-up to last week's Sweet song. Another hard-drinking, ass-kicking, finger-giving bit of '70s strutter rock. "Now you're messin' with ... a son of a bitch!" Indeed. 8/10
8. The Apples in Stereo, "Benefits of Lying With Your Friends" -- Eh. I can't really stand the first part of this song, which gets a little too wussy for my tastes, but there's a nice little moog bit at the end that redeems it. A little. 5/10
9. Ennio Morricone, "L´Estasi Dell´Oro (Remix)" -- This is a phenomenal remix of a tune from the greatest Western of all time, Sergio Leone's "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly." I have actually forbidden myself from listening to this on my iPod as I walk around town because I'm positive this music is going to get me into a fight. 10/10
10. Barry White, "You See the Trouble in Me" -- I once saw Barry White in concert, and it was everything you'd want it to be. He came out draped in about forty square feet of velvet. Behind him were three things: a nineteen piece orchestra, four scantily-clad dancers who were brought out on stage in giant champagne glasses, and a backdrop that was a giant satin headboard. Well played, my friend. Well played. 7/10
Well, that's yet another 7.6 average. I guess this is what it feels to be part of the MTV Generation, feeling neither highs nor lows.
Think you're better than me? Well, you're probably right. Go ahead and drop your own random ten, with or without the Coolness Self Audit, in the comments below.