Bobby Bare Jr. | The Longest Meow (Bloodshot)

Someone should pistol-whip Bobby Bare Jr. because he has decided to start coasting.

 


Based on the evidence of The Longest Meow, his latest CD, someone should pistol-whip Bobby Bare Jr. because he has decided to start coasting.

To be sure, Bare Jr. has previously displayed a pixyish nature hinting at narcissism. Although each had its merits, no one will ever mistake for major works his 2003 EP, OK-I'm Sorry…, and its full-length successor from a year later, From the End of Your Leash; moreover, his 2005 co-production of The Moon Was Blue, his father's first studio release in 22 years, too often embraced soundboard excess at the expense of Bare Sr.'s still-considerable talent. This trend should have already dismayed any listener thrilled by Bare Jr.'s 2002 alt-country debut, Young Criminals' Starvation League, one of the past decade's most memorable releases in the genre.

The Longest Meow may well transform dismay into disgust. The liner notes to the 12-track Bloodshot Records release state, "11 songs-11 people-11 hours in between 12:32 p.m. and 10:47 p.m. on March 26, 2006." A simple conceit, however, scarcely defines a serviceable CD, and this dreadful little artifact suggests a level of cynicism bordering on the abysmal. Especially in light of his 2002 disc, it ranks as a shameless betrayal of the compact between the musician and the listener.

After opening with "Bionic Beginning," a musical mayfly whereon Bare Jr. and his ten co-conspirators activate the microphones and clear their throats, the disc commences with "The Heart Bionic," a science fictional ditty far less literate than (say) Warren Zevon's 1989 "Transverse City." (Those who esteem The Six Million Dollar Man, the 1973-78 TV program that obviously inspired Bare Jr.'s song, will likely beg to differ; then again, instead of reading this review, such fine folk will likely also be drooling over the newest sci-fi novelization.) The Longest Meow then continues with "Gun Show," which showcases both a thrift-store acoustic guitar and unearned portentousness-it's heavy, man, it's really, really heavy-and "Uh Wuh Oh," a strictly WTF neo-"Louie Louie," the preparation for whose recording must have made the bong water bubble like mad.

"Did you make mayonnaise out of their brains as you said, ‘Ha ha-ha-ha?'" Bare Jr. inquires two tracks later. He does so, of course, on a track tellingly titled "Mayonaise Brain," suggesting that Bare Jr. or someone at Bloodshot should have stopped fingering his Miracle Whip and, among (many!) other things, consulted a dictionary before the issuance of this travesty.

The Longest Meow, in sum, spotlights a man peddling pastiches of his own past sorrow and promise. The lyrics to "Borrow Your Cape," its antepenultimate track, mention "moderate disgrace." In its own disgracefulness, unfortunately, Bare Jr.'s latest release exhibits not one iota of moderation.

RIYL: Bottle Rockets, Todd Snider

 

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