Three things happened in the past year and a half to inspire this review.
1. My musical mentor�s band is put on a bill at my local music club with Chicago punks Oh My God and I go see the show.
2. I purchase Oh My God�s sophomore album, Interrogations and Confessions
3. I go on a frustrated walk around my neighborhood, a rural suburb of a small suburb of one of Connecticut�s poorest city (I didn�t think CT had poor cities either) with I&T in my CD player.
The walk begins with an ascent up a hill. The album begins with the album�s only a single. A pop-infused indie song called Get Steady
. The concert begins with the same song. I flash back to me and my friends sitting on the carpet in front of the stage. A wild man with a slicked back mo-hawk stares back. He assures the crowd that they are still a punk band, even with songs like this. The band itself is almost impossible to categorize, mixing furious rock with pop, indie, metal and even some electronica. They have no guitarist, but rather an extremely talented keyboard player, a ferocious drummer and that wild eyed man on bass and vocals. I had been looking at this band for days before the show. I had seen pictures of bearded men smashing guitars while dripping motor oil, and was frightened, but I had come to realize at this point that they are just normal people with something to say. I sat back and enjoyed the music.
The song, Get Steady begins with Billy�s voice and distorted organ stabs. The chorus comes in like a wave of sound. Catchy might be the first word to come to mind when describing the song, which is a perfect example of OMG genre blending abilities. The lyrics are about a man trying to come to with his urges. I sing along while passing the bus stop. I make a left. An organ solo is played after the bridge before the song goes through another rotation before dying away.
The next song I hear is a tinkling emotional ballad. The Unbearable Pageant
begins with beautiful vocals and a soft piano line over an abstract tom beat. The lyrics are about compromise in a relationship going no where. The chorus comes in fast and unexpected. Lyrics are shouted and rums are pounded. The tone of Ig�s piano is that of a church organ run through a distortion pedal. It makes a fine substitiue for a guitar. An ascending Moog keyboard line accomplices it during to latter part of the chorus. Royal trumpets join the verses along with a new found shuffle beat. This song is the first taste of OMG�s emotional power, but hardly the strongest.
The stage is Billy�s playground. He jumps like an ape and flies like one of the Wright brothers. His bass playing is sparse and forgettable but his vocals are beautiful. He tells us a story about his mother catching him �stroking the baby� and how he later caught her pleasuring her self.
Next up is Pearls of Wisdom
, a metallic jam showing the main character (RM) get in a fight with his beloved. Clever lyrics hold up the songs intensity �Every band needs a theme song, Like Fey Wray needed King Kong, understand"�
I walk down a woodsy street. When my dad was still living at my house he used to tell me to pay attention on this street. As it has insane blind curve, but track number 4 is too good to care. Volatile
begins with an impending organ line. The song itself seems volatile, high tension vocals whisper creepy lyrics over a light ride cymbal beat.
�My mind�s on fire, my stomach is full of glue, I�m volatile for the ones that I love, Unbeknown in a room with out peers, I�m Hard to find (I�m under the stairs) I sought her out her out with some bourbon on ice, Smile and make nice�
On stage Billy stares at you like you are the only one in the audience, this makes the lyrical delivery that much more creepy. All of a sudden the song explodes. I walk by the curve unscathed. If there is one thing CT�s people are known for its money, preps and nasally accents. I�m not going to deny the last one, but I certainly don�t have the other 2 qualities. This is the type of street that gives people their ideas. The beautiful houses watch over the streets like billboards, each trying to say �THE NICEST FAMILY LIVES HERE�
I end up walking behind a family like that most likely lives in one these houses.
�Peace is easy with the dick next door� Billy says into the mike. �But I can�t just talk to you when I have something to say. I�ve loved and lost, when I didn�t love enough, but I know enough not to stick my nose in there when things get rough� Frantic drum fills end the song with a bang.
�This is a nice place here� Billy says into the mike of the club. �I wish we could play CT more often, it�s nice here� At least one person thinks so. The album continues with another ballad about a lovelorn man. The concept of the album is just building, it seems normal now, but just wait. February 14th
is the song where the main character finally comes to terms with how much he misses his ex-girlfriend. This song is one of my favorites for the sheer emotional power. The vocals and organ are beautiful. The desperation and sadness are extremely apparent. The song reminds of a love once lost and brings a tear to my eye. The echoing piano line is nothing short of genius.
�You should know, you improve me, even from a distance, you can move me, when I�m heavier than hell, you saw right through me. Now I am better, but mostly I�ve got my mind together�
What�s great about this album is its ability to go from a beautiful ballad to a psychotic drug-abusing fantasy realm. The plot thickens as the main character of sorts does LSD and begins to see life from another side. Funhouse Mirror Mother
documents this emotional fall out. Some story albums seem like a directors cut of normal life (American Idiot) but this album, for me shows life like it was meant to be depicted.
I walk along a main road behind this �perfect family� by now they have noticed me, but haven�t stopped to say hi like some of my other neighbors, I walk by a farm. Two donkeys watch as we pass with lonely eyes. The young girls in the perfect family stop for photos with the donkeys. They follow me instead of posing. They bob their heads to Funhouse�s claustrophobic beat, ears perked, and tail swinging. I walk by rows of chopped crown stalks, another song ends and Torture
begins. The next is another ballad. Torture is probably OMG�s poppiest song. The lyrics show the previous couple we met on a break. Our main character wakes up a night�s sleep, thinking about his girlfriend.
�I had a staggering urge today, my sense of touch is like a siren. One more day of dying�
Billy cries into the mic, Ig works behind on the keyboards like a mad scientist, Switching from beautiful piano to screeching organ through out the song. We watch as the song goes into its anthemic, often melodic filled chorus. My favorite part of the song would be the short bridge, which feature�s Billy alone with a soft piano before going into a tortured scream. The next song, Shine
shows him in a happy state of mind. For the first time our character seems happy. The song has a nice scuffle beat provided by Gish, but sort of falls flat. The pop melodies are their but don�t seem to work as well as on other tracks.
�This will be our final song� Billy announces, to disappointment from the crowd.
RM has a born again feeling inside him. He learns of the human psychology. He learns the Obligation to Joy
. RM needs to talk to his father, something he hasn�t done in quite sometime. Tom (the name of the next song as well as RM�s father) begins with a pounding bass line and some ambient synths. The drums give you the vision of some one running or searching for something. A few minutes in RM finds his father. He breaks down in his arms to heart breaking piano and dramatic drums. RM knows what he must do. He has to talk to his ex-girlfriend, he needs to make it better, his dad may not talk much now but he showed RM what needed to be done. Unfortunately the story takes a turn for the worst.
�Have some cheese, Ratman� says a voice from deep inside my cushioned head-phones. RM (Ratman) finds himself in a city slum. Surrounded by gang members, it is apparent what is going to happen. Rat man has flashbacks to the days of his break up. He waits for the impending beating.
I walk over a small bridge and reach the homestretch to my house. There are 2 paths, one up a hill and through a small wood overlooking a pond. I choose the latter. I step in goose **** on the way home. Damn. These were my new Converses.
Now I am in my room. I lay in my bed prepared for the album�s final track, Ratman�s Confession. The song begins with a scratchy accapela sample of the chipmunk�s classic �Lonely� Silence for half a minute before a deep voice says �The music takes you deeper still.� Piano begins. Drums and bass follow. The bass pattern is wonderfully full and fits beautifully over the piano line, which is made up of no more than 4 notes. �The angels touch your thighs, your lips��� This is a time of greatness for everyone� The voice continues with random lyrics. �I am not afraid to ask why� the voice states. Variations change the music. The feeling this song gives you is one that cannot be described with words.
�The angels will touch your throat, they heal your voice�
Rat man is dead. He has gone to heaven and never got to talk to his girlfriend.
The band finishes their set to cheers from the audience. They take a bow and leave the stage.
I sit alone is my room as the album fades away. The clock strikes 4.
Every one is in awe.
The Unbearable Pageant
Oh My God! is:
Billy (vocals, bass)
Ig (organ, keyboard)