Parker Longbough - Commander Comatose (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Parker Longbough

Commander Comatose (2006)


As a lucky staff reviewer for Punknews, I receive albums from bands all over the country and all over the world. Of the American bands, a ton of my review CDs come from California and a lot from large cities like New York and Chicago obviously, but quite frequently I'll get something from a less typical place. Parker Longbough is from Alaska, one of the most atypical places I can think of to get a rock album from. Maybe they have a bustling indie rock scene in Anchorage, I don't know, but all I can picture is glaciers and shit. Yes, it's fairly big city I realize. To set things straight immediately, Parker Longbough is not a dude's name -- this is the alter ego of a guy named Matthew Witthoeft. He was in a band named Uncle Jesse, which is a great band name, but unknown to me. This current band is no longer a solo act, and here is helped by an assortment of different drummers, bassists and others.

Commander Comatose starts things off with the title track and a huge Pavement vibe, with slacker vocals, twinkly and imperfect guitar lines and a simple drum beat. I'm also hearing a bit of Wilco in there with its slight twang. Not bad. Then there's "Think on Your Own," which is ripped straight from a Built to Spill Ancient Melodies song, I just haven't figured out which one yet. It's got a mid-tempo beat, an over-used yet effective chord progression and more lazy vocals. It's also enjoyable, though not very unique. This was about where I stopped previewing this disc and put it in my ‘promising' pile of stuff to review.

So now I sit down to hear the remainder of the album and "Expatriate" brings things down with acoustic arpeggios and boom-box quality vocals. Okay, fine, but the attempt at slide/pedal steel guitar sounds like a dying cat. "Swimming in My Mind" also has some questionable guitar lead notes; either we need to tune up before we hit record, guys, or else you're just hitting wrong notes. "Losing My Mind" (a theme here?) has what appears to be backwards lead guitar tracks, so those can be excused and sound pretty cool.

My wife walked in the room while "Brodawg Deal" was on, and said "What the hell are you listening to?" Yeah, this one seems a bit out of place with its drum machine and tin-can metallic production; all of a sudden we've got Public Image Ltd. backing mediocre melodic vocals. Where did this come from? I had to explain to her about how the other songs are not as bad as this one. Luckily, that one was a tangent, and it got back on track with "Half a Life," bringing us back into slacker/`90s indie rock mode with ultra-fuzz guitars and an upbeat tempo. Perhaps the disjointed nature has something to do with practically all the tracks being recorded at separate sessions, some dating back to 2002.

You may enjoy this album if you can put up with a little slop. These guys could stand to do an extra take or punch-in on some of these guitar leads, but the overall low budget feel gives this album its charm. It's got a clunker or two and I was worried when I hit "Brodawg Deal" and I was prepared to rip this album a new one. But it won me back.