Monday, April 13, 2009

Review: Sandwich by Psychostick

Rock Ridge Music
Release Date: May 5th, 2009

Psychostick is certainly in a league of their own. They play music that borders on hardcore, with impressive instrumentation and breakdowns galore. In other words, nothing terribly distinguishable. Then, there are the lyrics that cast them into a completely different realm of music. Call it humorcore.

The indie scene was blessed with the release of Incredibad earlier this year, providing talented, legit songs that were also side-splitting. Sandwich, for better or worse, is in a similar vein, creating seriously funny tunes that are also, well, good. They play an in-your-face style of metal/hardcore, but the vocals are clean and comprehensible, which is obviously important since they are important to the whole schtick. To fans familiar with the brand of music, it should not come off as abrasive at all, although it has its share of intense moments. Even if it seems too “hard” on the surface, it is actually worth the listen to derive the humor from the songs. After all, they are not serious at all and the contrast between quasi-hardcore and the silly, mundane lyrics (as on Incredibad) make the album that much funnier.

A candidate for most random album title and concept of all time, Sandwich has plenty of food-themed songs to whet your appetite (groan.) The almost-title track, “This Is Not A Song, It’s A Sandwich” is a prime example of the complete ridiculousness of the lyrics in a Psychostick song/sandwich. In essence, one could derive the idea behind any of the songs from their title, and in this case it is literally a defense of how the track-in-question is not a song, but is rather a type of delicatessen delight, and how it could not possibly be a host of other things (“It couldn’t be a chick, ‘cause it doesn’t want to marry.” Amen, brother.) Does it make any sense? It defies all logic, but the intense defense is unavoidably funny. Anyone who has stepped foot into a grocery store can relate to “Grocery Escape Plan,” a simple tale of stream-of-consciousness thoughts that occur while grocery shopping, punctuated at nearly every syllable. Actually, a good deal of the songs are relatable. Take “Don’t Eat My Food” for instance, which is a brutal look at the infuriating occurrence of having a coveted item of food eaten by someone else. “Caffeine” sounds exactly like a song that would be on a caffeine rush and consequently crashing from it. Aside from the universality of food, there are other topics touched upon, as the redundancy and frustrations of minimum wage jobs (aptly titled “Minimum Rage”), bombardment by spam (“You’ve Got Mail Enhancement”), and subtly getting back at a slightly frustrating roommate (“Passive Vengeance”) all deliver the laughs while maintaining a decent level of musicianship. “#1 Radio $ingle” is an all-too-perfect satire of commercial radio, literally spelling out the recipe for success in the song while purposely sounding extremely bland enough to be tolerable by nearly anyone.

It is audibly possible to tell that Psychostick clearly do not give a shit and are clearly not serious, and you almost get the feeling that any small idea that they get becomes the concept for a song (“Orange” almost takes the ridiculousness a bit too far, but it is still passable because of its delivery.) However, the band is quite talented, and makes the album a multidimensional one, with actual musical ability combining with actual humor. The immediate impact of the album is impossible to avoid, lending it to be repeatedly listened to while still being effectively funny. In sum, the self-created hype surrounding Sandwich is pretty much deserved and spot-on, as the album is exactly what to expect: Legitimately hard music and harder hitting laughs. You could do a lot worse than to sit through the hoagie-in-disguise that is Sandwich.

Psychostick - BEER! (from We Couldn't Think of a Title)



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