When a band decides it’s a good idea to come out on stage wrapped in foil with colanders on their heads, at worst, they may be having their little joke at the audience’s expense. At best, they may be indulging in some form of post-modern irony. At the least, they might get your attention, and when you’re a local outfit from Roslyn, Washington, a tiny town where the audience “simply want[s] a background thump for their mating rituals,” attention is not something to sneeze at.
Of course, once you’ve managed to get that attention, you would do well to have some thumping worth listening to. If Oh It’s The Of, The Of’s self-produced album from a year ago re-released this month by Seattle’s Green Monkey (the headquarters for the “avant weird”) is any indication, when they want to they can turn out some music worth listening to. Trouble is they don’t always seem to want to.
There are a dozen tracks on the album, and if you discount those that seem little more than mediocre jokes, there is some quality music here. A little rock, some blues, a lot of jazz—these guys can get going. I was especially impressed with the instrumentals. “Sodo Monkey Pt 1” and “Sodo Monkey Pt 2” feature jamming guitars, and the 14-minute “Mouse Trash Recipe” is a modernist instrumental jazz suite with some very effective solo work that rocks from beginning to end. There are some vocal sounds here that will either put you in mind of composers like John Cage or have you giggling in derision. If you can get beyond the lyrics, there is something almost compelling about “Mystic Fishstick,” the tune which closes the album.
“Down in the Basement” is barroom blues, with some killer guitar licks. The lyrics, which seem straight out of a low budget horror film, leave something to be desired. “Whiskey & Pills,” after the whispered opening, turns into a fairly traditional rocker that will have heads bobbing and feet tapping.
All the songs on the album except for “Thrompnobulous” are by John Carey, who also plays guitar, keyboard and percussion. Drummer Jim Morgan, who also plays cello, joined Carey in the composition of “Thrompnobulous.” The rest of the band is made up of Ian Gray (bass, banjo and mandolin) and Pat Nevin (vocals and percussion). All join in on vocals. Trombonist Roy Ravincrowe makes a guest appearance on “Mouse Trash Recipe.”
“Pioneers of foil rock,” they call themselves—“Men of the Colander.” I guess if you’re going to have a band in Roslyn, Washington, it helps to have a sense of humor.