May 6, 2010
Elastic No-No Band | Fustercluck!!!
2010 | Weemayk Music
The Antifolk group Elastic No-No Band is nothing if not prolific on Fustercluck!!!, their second studio album. Spread over two discs and over two hours, this record is a veritable smorgasbord of American folk and rock styles. These guys clearly love music and you’d be hard pressed to fault their energy or their execution. At its core, this record is simply a lot of fun. But it’s also a fairly extensive glimpse into the twisted mind of songwriter/singer Justin Remer (who writes for Jezebel Music) and a good platform for his off-the-wall sense of humor, as evidenced by the self-explanatory first single, “(The Shame About) Manboobs.”
Elastic No-No Band’s music, much like the other bands who make up the Antifolk scene that calls the East Village’s Sidewalk Café home, is quite possibly an acquired taste, but one well worth the plunge. The No-No Band is like the corn ice cream at Sundaes & Cones. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but after you have the sample spoonful, you find yourself ordering a whole cone.
Disc one – let’s call it “Fuster” – opens with a goofy cut from an old scratchy fitness record, and that sets the tone. Fuster is a workout of sorts, an aerobic and bouncy journey through American music that hopscotches from banjo folk to trashy indie to old-school country…you get the picture. The crunchy fuzz of “The Color Machine” stands out on Fuster, a meatball of a track that mashes a stripped down Stooges groove with the dirty alt-rock of Lou Barlow’s Folk Implosion project. It’s catchy as hell and a bit of a departure from the rest of the record. Brook Pridemore (who also writes for Jezebel Music) co-wrote the track and sings lead, which isn’t as distracting as you’d think. since one of the album’s strengths is that the dozen or so guests who join in with the No-No Band blend in seamlessly. Debe Dalton, banjo player extraordinaire, is all over both discs and the album is all the better for it. Her banjo picking is timeless, as is her voice. Dalton and Remer’s duet of the old traditional song “There’s A Hole In the Bucket” is particularly funny and sweet.
In addition to the handful of Debe Dalton-assisted traditional songs on the album, the band also does some very able covers of Everly Brothers, Beach Boys, Leadbelly, and Joe Jackson material. Though most of the record is original, the covers are quite well-chosen and remind listeners of past American music that shapes all sorts of bands – these guys included.
A highlight on disc two – or “Cluck” – is “Oh Magali”, a song about being obsessed with your ex. Remer’s voice and demeanor as he admits his stalker tendencies are funny and endearing, even if the subtext makes this character a bit scary. The lyrics in general tend to make you smile, especially when they catch you off guard, as with a song like “I Wonder How Many People Are Screwing Tonight.” The question is vulgar, but valid I suppose, and once you hear Remer’s wry description of the dating scene, you’ll probably be laughing in agreement.
Cluck’s “The Worst Thing On My Resume” is less of a song and more of an anthropological self-study of Remer’s time as an intern with a B-movie production company called Troma. I’m not going to give away the punch lines here, but suffice it to say, it’s very dirty and very funny. Booty screw, indeed.
Rounding out Cluck and capping off the whole set is an 8-minute song called “A Boy Named Snommit” that sums up the band’s strengths perfectly. The offbeat rhyming, motor mouthed delivery, and goofy premise (a young father suggests reversing his surname to be the first name of his soon-to-be-born baby), you get the essence of the No-No Band and Remer’s ability as a comedian and commentator. Elastic No-No Band isn’t afraid to have fun with their music and they’re nice enough to let the rest of us in on their jokes. While the end product is a bit ragtag and really quite long, the band’s unselfconsciousness and obvious joy in making music makes it fun to spend this much time with a band and a record.
by Lee Ann Fullington
“Oh Magali” Video!: