Young Fresh Fellows – I Think This Is

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 4)

I love rock ‘n’ roll friendships. I like the idea that long-term, recurring musical partnerships grew out of simple fandom. And then their collaborative work creates new fans, including other musicians, and the network grows exponentially. And we, the listeners, end up with more cool music and fun stories. This album was produced by Robyn Hitchcock, the first time he has been behind the board for another artist. Hitchcock by this point had an association with both Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck (who co-wrote one song and contributed 12-string guitar on I Think This Is). Hitchcock had pitched in on the Minus 5’s Let the War Against Music Begin in 2001, while 75% of the Fellows (and Buck) backed Hitchcock on some of the songs on 1999’s Jewels for Sophia, and Buck had guested on Globe of Frogs back in 1988, as well as Perspex Island three years later. Also, McCaughey (and Buck again) was part of Hitchcock’s band (known as the Venus 3, which also included Ministry’s Bill Rieflin) on both the 2006 release Olé Tarantula and Goodnight Oslo, released a few months before this album.

What I Think of This Album

I Think This Is took about eight years to appear after Because We Hate You. There seems to be a little rust, but overall this is a pretty strong Fellows platter.

McCaughey is responsible for most of the songs, with guitarist Kurt Bloch providing the excellent “Lamp Industries” and the very Fastbacks-like “New Day I Hate;” Buck helping out McCaughey on the garagey, organ-inflected “Betty Let the Good Times Crawl;” and drummer Tad Hutchinson collaborating with Chris Ballew (Presidents of the United States of America) on the execrable, mind-numbing “Shake Your Magazines,” and a Hitchcockian “Used to Think All Things Could Happen,” (not good, but with some very cool drumming).

Songs like “The Guilty Ones” and “Never Turning Back Again” seem to reflect maybe too much of a moderating Minus 5 influence, replacing the energy and goofy abandon characteristic of the best of the Fellows’ work with a staid, clean sound. But flashes of the old Fellows peek through, mostly on the bouncy, raucous, and weird “Suck Machine Crater” and the absurd “YOUR Mexican Restaurant.”

Also, the album closes strongly with a trio of excellent songs:  “After Suicide,” showcasing a “Clash City Rockers” guitar intro and hyperactive bass; the dark, cooing “If You Believe in Cleveland” (which reminds me a tiny bit of “House of the Rising Sun” crossed with the Baseball Project’s “13,” a song that admittedly would not exist for another 4 plus years); and “Ballad of the Bootleg” (which references Chris Mars of the Replacements).

I should note that while “Go Blue Angels Go” is silly filler (and unnervingly supportive of military propaganda), the handclaps are great and it contains my favorite lyric of the album: “Don’t go in the lake / It’s full of hydroplanes.”

One additional thought because I can’t help myself: “Good Times Crawl” and “Suck Machine” sound too similar to be placed back-to-back. Ok, one other thing: this album was released on the same day and same label as the Minus 5’s Killingsworth.

The Best Thing About This Album

Hmmmm. While I think “If You Believe in Cleveland” is fantastic, the prize goes to Bloch for “Lamp Industries.”

Release Date

July, 2009

The Cover Art

Creepy but not horribly so. Actually more boring than creepy. I’m not a fan of having no title or band name – this art (painted by Hutchinson) is not so special it can’t be sullied with text. Overall, a miss.

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