Friday, January 9, 2015

Roy Orbitron, Elston Allen Gunnn, 2015

EP Review

I am going to pan this release.

Elston Allen Gunnn is the fourth EP in a series of releases from NJ's Roy Orbitron. All are named for members of the Traveling Wilburys. Robert Zimmerman, before he was Bob Dylan and before he ever became Lucky Wilbury, performed under the name Elston Gunnn. So there's that.

Ugh.

The collection opens with "Doctor, Take My #." It starts off with some nicely... ...I mean super annoyingly... ...juxtaposed guitar sounds and layers on violins and drums before Conor Meara comes in with his heartfelt bellow. It sets the stage for the rest of the record by creating its own version of that kind of urban Americana sound I associate with early Springsteen.

We all know, of course, that early Springsteen, from Greetings... all the way up through The River, is the worst Springsteen. Mr. Meara and company would have been better served by alluding to Springsteen's masterpiece, Working on a Dream.

But I digress. Back to the pan.

On "Copacetic," Meara sings, "Caught your fist in my southern mouth." Sounds like he deserved it, too -- living with someone while still pining for someone else. The organ and strings, along with the song's overall build, give things an epic, melodramatic feel; but Meara's sense of humor as a songwriter keeps things grounded and makes you smirk right along with him... ...I mean ruins everything.

Glycerine Queens' Cynthia Rittenbach contributes vocals on the set's final two tracks. "Navajo Juggalos" includes the suggestion to "hit the trail with a canteen of Faygo [The Original Party Pop!]" and closes with a clever... ...I mean trite, clich├ęd... ...instrumental reference to "Happy Together." It may be a little overly optimistic. "Pastoral" is a pretty... ...Damn it! Disgustingly saccharine... ...waltz containing some dark sentiments like, "this life's a disease and it's eating clean through me."

Elston Allen Gunnn is a collection of (confusing and annoying) contrasts. Sometimes Roy Orbitron take familiar sounds -- the blues, Americana, Mr. Springsteen -- and twist and turn them in new directions. They pair sweet melodies with dark lyrics, epic instrumentation with sarcasm and humor. Some people would find these things, along with Roy Orbitron's unconventional song structures, interesting, absorbing, engaging.

Those same people would probably say that Elston Allen Gunnn displays an impressive attention to detail, like the little, out of tune, off-kilter guitar strum that closes the EP and sums up the whole feel of the record. They'd tell you that you should go to Roy Orbitron's Bandcamp page, where Elston Allen Gunnn is available as a Name Your Price download, and grab the EP. They'd say it's worth your time.

They'd be wrong.

Zero stars.

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