Saturday, November 14, 2009

Charly “the city mouse” Fasano - Whiskey Won't Cure Clap [Fast Geek Press]

I wasn’t sure what I was gonna think about this tape cause talking/telling stories over music doesn’t usually sit with me just right (I’m quite a fervent Hold Steady detractor amongst a certain group of friends) but anyway this Fasano dude’s stuff (backed up musically by woMANgione and Magic Cyclops) is quite good.
“Smiles that Go Ding” begins with an eerie chord organ drone before quickly switching to an arrangement of a jauntily strummed banjo, glockenspiel and steel guitar. Fasano talks about a roller rink and people wanting to wear labels that cost more than their rent and the weekends when families bombard the streets with strollers and dogs on leashes, “pushing around their accomplishments.” Fasano's stream of conscious style sounds random when certain parts are just plucked out but it works somehow in the context of each song. “Chicago Walk” ostensibly describes various Chicagoans, including an overweight man going to yoga class, stone masons, “pan handlers who only accept dollar bills” and a barista who he can’t tell “if her pants are covered in pigeon shit, or if she’s just wearing acid wash jeans.” “Bar Bar Anthology” has a really beautiful string and brass arrangement that along with Fasano’s descriptive language creates lovely cinematic images in my mind as Fasano “talks to drunks who respect [him.]” An upbeat keyboard line starts off “So Hollywood in KC MO” which is about a man, “he’s a singer, he’s in a rock n’ roll band,” going through various photo shoots and the other demands of being a popular musician. I like the music and the song as a whole though the tempo is a bit too driving for Fasano’s leisurely, somewhat weary delivery.
Nostalgia pops up its head up in “Pretend to be a Man” as Fasano details memories of his childhood pretending to be Rambo while playing capture the flag, “wanting to sing like Huey Lewis and dress like Don Johnson” and remembering how E.T. scared the shit of him. “People I Can’t Trust” has a great dark jazz vibe, giving it a vague slowed down hip-hop feel, and weirdly enough it works really well as Fasano relays a funny story about a drunken news anchor’s wild night. The downer musical vibe carries over to “TJ” but it delves into even darker, dirge-like territory giving a grim tone to Fasano’s adventures down sketchy back alleys in Mexico and depressing philosophical comments like “What do Americans really do in between commercials? My best guess is they open another bag of chips, living life 22 minutes at a time through someone else’s eyes” The tape’s closer, “If I had Money,” is sort of an update of that lame Barenaked Ladies song; Fasano spouts pithy statements like “If I had money, I’d buy a Winnebago for any band that didn’t suck” against a synthwash than veers back and forth between melancholic and euphoric.
Whiskey Won't Cure Clap is definitely an anomaly in my tape collection, but I’m glad it’s there. None of the songs wear out their welcome and it’s nice to just put on and absorb sometimes. Fasano writes well, conjuring up detailed images of numerous characters and situations with ease. Fasano remarks at one point, “Nothing happens here because I’m the only one who notices” which sums his subject matter rather well. Props to him for making “nothing happening” sound interesting. Also, woMANgione and Magic Cyclops deserve a lot credit for the great music they supplied Fasano with. WoMANgione, especially, he/she could seriously do film scores, though that moniker might have be ditched first.
Still available as far as I can tell; the tape comes in an envelope with an insert and download code.

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