Five - I Don't Know Who I Am
The Minus Fivers are the brainchild of Sir Scott McCaughey who assembles a list of merry men to work on his various musical offerings. The latest in this efforts is Lo-Fi meeting Wilco and the Beatles, it is a set of unprecedented works that lay to claim something of a completely different recording than what was released before this.
One can argue that the Minus 5's work has become more succinct as the albums have moved on. There is a direction or purpose with every release from the hard-edged In Rock or the Poppy Beach Boys-esque "Let the War Against Music Begin. The history behind this album is as follows: During the "Let the War" sessions this is the album that Scott and Peter wanted to release. So if you think you are getting a lot of remixes and such, this is not the case whatsoever. Only two of the songs have been released previous to this. Those songs are on Myrna Loy, which was included on In Rock, and Dear Employer which is actually entitled The Reason I Quit (Dear Employer) on this record, not that this makes much of a difference. Both of those songs are reworked, or in the case of Dear Employer, this song was only a sketch of what it appeared as on Down With Wilco.
"I Don't Know Who I Am", is Scott's basement album. The album he made with his trusty bottle of whiskey next to him and a nice copy of Pro Tools. Arguably this is the most ambitious of all his releases, even though it is limited in production. As beautful album this is, the album lacks the catchyness of previous releases instead decides to go darker and deeper into the conundrum you would call Scott's brain.
The first track sets the mood to this album. Not a hard rocker or poppy introduction, the song lends itself the lo-fi feel with the inclusion of the slide guitar to give it an alt-country feel. You can see Jeff Tweedy writing a song like this, and playing in the studio with it afterwards.
Myrna Loy is tweaked for this release and given a facelift with some more fuzz and electronics. Personally, I like the version on In Rock better and would have probably fit better here. The album features some catchy tunes including Rooting for the Plague, with some of Scotts familiar odd humor as shown in these lyrics "I dont know why but it is, a time for extermination, the first one to put out the light, gets a camaro for graduation"
"I Don't Want to Fuck Off Anymore", is classic Scott that is suited for that smokey bar in the corner of nowhere or as an inclusion on The Beatles White Album. Its a fun little tune that prides itself of updating a normal hokey pop song and sorta wants you to bop around and sing along to the chorus.
One of the first Minus 5 albums to not just include one instrumental but two and they work. "Saturn is a Place on Earth" is New Orleans Instrumental #2 on mescaline. And a Lonely Place gives the album a nice segway into some of its more adventurous songs on the second half of the album, and Queens Head is lo-fi Beatles at its finest. Scott's voice really is underrated throughout this entire album and we see the beauty especially on this song.
This album ends in fine fashion. Disaster Nurse Fang is the Minus 5's answer to Revolution #9, but 10 times better. Chaos and beauty that is hard to describe other than to say if you have listened to music from the Circulatory System or Olivia Tremor Control you will know what I am talking about. And the last track, Dear Employer, a favorite which sounds like Scott and Jeff sharing lead vocals on this quintiessential lo-fi recording as it sounds like Jeff is singing this through a metal tube a mile away.
This is probably the most difficult album that I can see a music fan get into. If you have gotten other Minus 5 works this one is not like any of those, but more like a Lo-Fi Radiohead record than the Power Pop Young Fresh Fellows. My guess though is that there would be no way that Scott would have been able to get this album its fair due.
Odd, but compelling, and in the end it will probably turn out to be one of my favorite Minus 5 Recordings. This makes Up look like a cakewalk and I can see those that aren't willing to give this a listen its fair amount of listening, but there will be those that will pull this record out and it could just sit in someone's cd player for quite awhile.
This album is limited to 2000 copies so its not going to be in the stores forever. You can get it at Amazon if you are so inclined to pick it up.