What a long, strange trip it's been."- Jerry Garcia.
That excerpt was used by no less than 20 people I graduated high school with as a senior quote, and though I've never listened much to the Grateful Dead, those words, for whatever reason, have always resonated with me.
After not having thought about that quote in some time, Awesome Car Funmaker's E for Everyone brought it back.
A strikingly off-kilter and rambunctious effort, this the third album from the Madison, WI natives is a trip through more sounds, influences and presentations than most bands would attempt in an entire career. Throwing any semblance of cohesion out the window, this quartet's mish-mash of sounds is surprisingly refreshing. The dizzying time signature changes of "Corn Maze" don't mesh at all with the electronic fervor of "An Ode to Escape or Explode" or the bright indie rock of "Heart Attack," but it's all part of the charm.
Even with that charm, though, it takes a while to settle in to the album. The alt-rock sounds of "Don't Try" aren't especially gripping, and the amalgamation of howling vocals and punchy synths on "Break Out the Cake" are borderline obnoxious.
But then, something happens. It's hard to pinpoint exactly where, but somewhere in the middle of "Heart Attack" it clicks. When the reserved demeanor of singer Ryan Corcoran gives way to ramped-up riffs and a big chorus, it feels like you've been thrust right back into the middle of the fray. "NASA or CIA" follows with a super-charged rhythm section and on-a-dime changes of direction. Just when the band seems to be settling into a distinct pattern, they go the opposite way with it. "Costa Rica" incorporates elements of indie rock and reggae before Corcoran throws in metallic riffs to shake the foundation yet again.
In a time where it's hard to be truly different, Awesome Car Funmaker has done just that.
With 12 songs, it's almost better to approach the record expecting to hear 12 different records. Because you assuredly will.