Sunday, April 8, 2018

Graham Repulski - Success Racist [Rok Lok]

As is plain to see, reviews have been on a downward trend for the past, I don't know, many years. This is not because I lack great music to write about, but because I'm old and busy now. And because I'm a loquacious blowhard who starts writing (and writing, and writing) a review and rarely gets around to finishing it before some life thing happens that requires my attention. I never seem to get back in the zone to finish what I've started. 

So many casualties litter the graveyard of half-written drafts that I'm scared to whistle past the place. Basically, I don't have the time to write a treatise on a twenty minute cassette like in my younger days. So that means I have to change. More specifically, I have to force myself to change. It will be better for everyone; more artists will get reviews and I won't feel like such an unproductive dirtbag. At least, if things go according to plan--which, in all honesty, has never been my strong suit. 

To focus my energies, I've created a hard and fast rule of 300 words or less for each review going forward. A rule to live and die by. A rule to never be broken. On my first try--this review you're currently about to read--I ended up with just under 500. Which I think is a pretty good start. Rome wasn't built in a day folks.

This is a tape I've listened to (and enjoyed) a lot the past couple years but it's proven quite tricky to write about, alas the radio silence. Success Racist sounds EXACTLY like early Guided By Voices. I mean exactly--this is some Wolfgang Beltracci-level artistry. And, just to be clear, this is not a pejorative statement. The production, the hiss, it's spot on. But the truly beguiling quality of the whole affair is the songwriting. The entire history of rock & roll is founded on out and out theft, so hearing an artist heavily indebted to prior forerunners is an everyday occurrence. If I had a dollar for every time I discovered that a band I thought to have an "original" sound had been beat to it 20 or 30 years earlier... well, you know what I'd be. All that said, I've never heard someone inhabit another songwriter's skin so completely and so triumphantly. I mean the only real explanation is science-fiction. Clearly, through a series of strange, forbidden experiments, Repulski has re-animated the corpus or corpse (if yr into conspiracies) of Bob Pollard from half a million beers ago. If not more.

Even the lyrics are suspiciously on point, the kind of idiosyncratic nonsense I've become so invested in after hours and hours of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes despite never having a clue what the fuck Bob and Tobin are talking about. Case in point, my favorite track: "James Run". I have no idea what the "James Run" is or means, but man, when Repulski sings "Where did you go? Where did you go in the 'James Run?" I really feel it. I couldn't tell you why but I do. Over and over again. Or "Crying Machine Shakes at the Moon" which, I mean just look at the title. The money shot, "And counting backwards from suicide..." just pops up into my head from time to time. And that's the special thing about this, most of these songs can stand shoulder to shoulder with just about any from the classic GBV era. So many of these songs have carved little homes in my brain just like the GBV records that came before them.

Things do go a bit sideways at times, whenever I hear the opening notes of "Elevator Tricks" my brain automatically thinks I'm about to be hearing "The Ugly Vision" from Alien Lanes and then realizes it isn't. Don't know if this is really a bad thing but it is a disruption in an otherwise seamless listening experience.

This is the only Repulski tape I've heard so whether this is a life-long commitment or a one-album experiment, I don't know. But it is a success, that's for damn sure.

Oh and Graham, what's a "success racist"?

The tape can be obtained from Rok Lok here (two copies left!) If you have a proclivity for compact discs you can get one from the artist himself here.