Where the Grass Grows Tall & the Girls Run Free
Out of a music scene burdened with enough shoe-gazing, rain-moping, navel-picking dime-a-whine emo-tripe to fulfill Warren Zevon's apocalyptic proclamation and send the West Coast crashing into the ocean come the majestically simian stylings of The Airresponsibles. Equal parts Faces boogie (if you don't know The Faces ask your drunk uncle), Ween country, and understated Americana a la The Band, The Airresponsibles have reclaimed the idea of ramshackle cabin fever from the cheap horror films where it's been hiding out for the past three decades and surgically reattached it to the bloated corpse of semi-popular music. Imagine how desperate the Beach Boys would have sounded trying to romanticize the crappy, rural, Interstate Highway rest stop where you grew up instead of their own lush, Southern California environs, and you'll catch a glimpse of the territory staked out by "Where the Grass Grows Tall and the Girls Run Free." Written over a two-year period during which the band lived and practiced in an abandoned Dairy Queen on the dusty outskirts of Ellensburg, Washington, the album was best described by a local DJ as the "Neighborhood weirdo's desperate, overweight catcall to America." Bursting with overwrought enthusiasm, surprisingly lyrical tunes, and spasmodic bursts of noise, The Airresponsibles' debut effort inhabits that most unlikely of musical dimensions: the listenably bizarre. Songs like "The Book" and "(I Will Not Be) Thwarted (While Looking For) Love at Metro Beach" walk a fine line between hallucination and gritty realism while "Shark Attacks" and "My Stuff Sucks" boast an in-your-face swagger that belies the lurking instability of the creepy, uncertain characters inhabiting the stark landscapes of "I Want To Party On Your Balcony," and "I'm Gonna Leave This Town (Unless You Try to Make Me)." Incorporating elements of folk, country, buccaneering, punk, and '80s hair metal without ever being clever enough to sound overtly derivative, The Airresponsibles have carved their initials into a small, weather-beaten corner of the musical picnic table so warped and infested with splinters that no one else has ever dared venture there, even when there was no other place to sit. Now that it's done, there is a significant possibility that anyone attempting to venture over in that direction will find himself beaten to a pulp and robbed of his lunch money by the most loveable thugs this side of the San Andreas fault.