Sometimes, you have to be grateful for friends. I’m a not-so-secret friend of Conan’s, and he brought this back to the forefront of my mind, and a good thing he did, too. Lest this reek of nepotism and inside jokes, I’m going to lead off with the fact that I had dismissed this, partially, as a vanity project- great for Conan Neutron & his Secret Friends, but I’ll get my jollies, elsewhere, thanks. But, he suggested that I download it, rather than just listen on headphones through the computer. This is exactly the deal.
I still think it drags a bit, around tracks six and seven- but let’s talk some news you can use- what you want is tracks one through five, on some format you can play on your ride. Now, the best choice, here, would be cassette in a 1970 Chevelle, but you want motion, here, and you want force. I personally, went with a burned CD, first listened on my work commute, but quickly switched to an Mp3 player, riding an early 1960’s Bonneville, a little too fast between western Maryland, and the Panhandle of West Virginia. Context is key, I think.
See, once you add the proper context, what you get is a beefier, crunchier take on AM rock of the early 1970’s. Like Sloan on Steroids, or the Tight Bros from Way Back When on a Scissorfight bender. Yes, Dale is drumming, so, Melvins comparisons are apt, but really, I think Sloan, circa Navy Blues, given a strong dose of Marshall Stack will get you closer. That is to say- super tight power pop songcraft made to be in service of big rawk aspirations. As Conan would have it, “Casually Intense”- it’s like Cheap Trick runs into Billy Squier, but gets assaulted by Tilts, along the way.
Now, is that essential? In some contexts, yes. It’s spring, right now. The desire to roam, to move fast, to do things, productive and unproductive comes out. This is a great soundtrack to that. Great stuff, there.
I don’t want to dwell on the negative- Mr Neutron’s best qualities are his enthusiasms, and his convictions, and I like to try to emulate that- so, I’m going to skip that noise, and just leave you with this- there may come a time when glossy pop wins. When the godawful over-produced horseshit tranquilizer prepackaged happy meal product pop is the only option. I fully expect that , on that day, there will be a last show somewhere in China, and on that bill, the last ever real rocknroll show, you will find Conan Neutron, still insisting on an encore. That, people, is something of the highest value- that’s the real, beating heart of humanity. So, listen to him, and his secret friends, because someday your soul may very well depend upon it.