by Wheaton Hop
The Gospel of Geoff Palmer
It’s summer up here on the Maine coast and that means gorgeous, sultry nights hanging out around the firepit with good friends, good drinks, and great tunes courtesy of Geoff Palmer. If that’s not already a part of your summertime ritual, what are you waiting for? If you need help figuring it out, here’s Heather’s Recipe for a perfect evening.
What you’ll need:
– A porch, stoop, or deck of some sort
– Hanging with friends optional but encouraged
– Charts & Graphs by homeboy Geoff Palmer blasting through the speakers.
What you’ll do:
Mix all ingredients together and voila! Your job is done.
Easiest recipe ever. Set, sit, enjoy.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
True to his Northern New England roots, Geoff brings a distinctly individual and unique performance and he delivers it with not just a healthy dose of whimsy and humor but brutal honesty to boot. With his latest full length release, we witness the undeniable evolution of a master craftsman. If you’re reading this, you’re likely already privy to the storied career and history of Mr. Useless as he traipses through our record shelves with groups like The Guts, Nobodys, Queers, The Connection, The Kurt Baker Band, and other collaborations like the quarantine treat 10” Your Face Is Weird he and the incomparable Lucy Ellis (Lucy & The Rats, Spazzys) gifted us last year. Charts & Graphs feels like a continuation of where Pulling Out All The Stops and Weird left off. It has some amazing power pop hooks we’ve come to enjoy from him but we are also given some true, down home folksy Americana. And it works. Really, really well.
The album opens with the rockin’ Many More Drugs, chronicling Geoff’s misheard lyrics adventure with the Dickie’s tune, Manny Moe And Jack. Not only is this a hilarious reminder that we have all been there but, even without that little tidbit of info, it’s a hit all on its own. It’s got just the right amount of bounce and energy to get the vibe going strong and the fire stoked. Geoff’s got a knack for cleverness and it shines through on this one. It’s also the first in a list of songs that showcase Geoff’s admiration and appreciation of musicians and groups that inspired him. Listen closely and you’ll pick up on several obvious and not so obvious examples throughout the album. And if you’re in the Dummy Room group, be sure to leave a comment about any little Easter eggs you noticed.
Up next is Don’t Be. This is that brutal honesty I was talking about up there. Right out of the gate, it’s flooded with attitude and exhausted patience. This one screams “Geoff’s had enough, ya’ll!” Essentially, don’t be a dick, man. Be ‘Sick!’ don’t ‘Suck!’ If you get a chance to run into Geoff, be cool. Be more like Geoff. Sheesh. And if you’re as cool as him, you’re totally gonna la, la, love Track 3.
Ya dig the Pixies? Doolittle in particular? This Monkey is gonna remind you why you do. Brandishing lyrics like “this monkey’s gone to hell”, it brought out my 90s geek girl in true Manic Panic hair dye and Oxblood Doc Marten fashion bought right down there in Boston from Newbury Comics. This track also features vocals from drummer Zack Sprague who could seriously understudy for Black Francis. As I listened, I was instantly reminded of La La Love You from Doolittle, a song that also features the drummer on vocals. Told ya, GeekGirls Unite! Thanks for that trip, guys. This Monkey is definitely on my list for single of the year already.
Tomorrow is the perfect song that, stylistically, starts the smooth transition into the rest of the album. Here, Geoff and friends start to slow it down just a tad for us. He manages to effortlessly blend a lovely slowish jam with sweet melodies and love song swagger complete with twangy guitar and still manages to keep up a toe tapping tempo that gives you permission to bop but swoon as you do. Track 5, Charts & Graphs carries on with easing us into a mellower groove. If Tomorrow is the soundtrack to the heights of love and relationships, Charts & Graphs achingly reflects the bumps in the road along the way and reminds us that we will be met with choices that need to be made, explained, and discussed. As cold as that sounds, this song causes a visceral reaction, I feel the hurt and frustration. It’s like the PowerPoint of Love’s Demise and it is still beautiful.
Count Me In offers up more twangy guitar and opens with distorted vocals but quickly clears a path and takes us on a journey to Mecca to pay our respects and pray at the altar of our favorite religion, Music. In all its glorious forms. Count Me In pays tribute to all the greats like Ramones, Motorhead, The Germs, Ween, Johnny Cash, Mould etc. I’m with Geoff on this one, if I’m going to hell, music is my favorite gateway sin. I’m guessing it’s high on your list as well. Let us pray. Peace be with you. Rock the fuck out and go get Jammed Up. Jammed follows in the vein of the last track offering a snapshot of a night out at your local dive bar and catching some live music that gets you out there cutting a rug, not giving a fuck. Just be careful of the little Cinderella that catches your eye. Doing so just may literally lead you to A Hard Day’s Life. A Hard Day’s Life starts the wind down toward the closing of this 10 song LP while picking up the beat with a nod to the Beatles and Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind. Fun little trivia… Dylan also performed Blowin’ In The Wind with the artist who wrote this album’s closer. Stay tuned.
Pardon me for a moment. Ahem.
Sorry. Just had another flash of fan girl mania as What Would Paul Westerberg Do? is currently whispering sweet, gritty Westerbergs in my ear. This one for me is pure joy as a Westerberg and ‘Mats fan. Geoff hits all the sweet spots for me, cleverly deploying lyrics and titles from a litany of Paul’s greatest like Sorry, Ma. Forgot To Take Out The Trash to Left Of The Dial to Favorite Thing and It’s A Wonderful Lie or two throughout. Absolute gold. I even told him so on his Facebook Answering Machine.
Just as I am jazzed up and so not ready for the fire to die down and we have to call it a night, I am not prepared for this record to end. But, alas, it must. Geoff carries us out with a cover of Tom Petty’s The Apartment Song. While staying true to that Petty sound, Geoff puts his own spin on a classic. Such a fun, upbeat way to end the festivities. But I’m not lonely tonight, I’ve got this fantastic album to keep me company and you can as well, so don’t despair.
Already up for preorder from Stardumb Records, Rum Bar Records for CD and on cassette via Memorable But Not Honorable as well. It will be available in distros like The Machine Shop. The street release for Charts & Graphs is July 23rd. Just a week away, Dummies. So make sure you add this to your cart because it won’t be a real summer night if you leave out the most important ingredient.
Cheers, Dummies and enjoy your summer nights.
Wheaton Hop Out.