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do people think of German Cars vs American Homes?
We Not Mental? We Are GCvAH! Ha!
The band even wears this mindset on the sleeve of their latest CD, One in a Million (Mishap) - their first full-length album after a series of EP’s. The cover is a faux scratch-’n’-win Lotto card that includes the directions: “Think you’re special? One in a million? GERMAN CARS VS. AMERICAN HOMES think otherwise.” Of the 16 songs on the album, about half have lyrics directed at an invisible “you,” a seeming extension of Mr. Call’s warped yet observant perceptions of his social constraints as a high-school outcast, a failing acting student, or a participant in the NYU pseudo-artist party scene in Williamsburg and downtown Manhattan.
When he’s not railing against you, Mr. Call seems to be singing about himself. And on one track, “Vacuum” - a GCvAH staple that has appeared on two previous releases - the first and second-person references meet in Mr. Call’s listless world: “I read a classic book, / They say it’s worth a look, / I sing a pretty song, / I sing it all life long,” Mr. Call raps in his bored-art-student voice over synthesized Farfisa and bass sounds. “You think it’s vacuous, / It cleans up the mess, / I hear the TV’s on, / I’ve got my clothing on / V-A-C-U-U-M, / I’m in a vacuum, / You know you suck me up / V-A-C-U-U-M.”
The soundtrack backing Mr. Call’s lyrical neuroses is appropriately off-kilter. GCvAH’s instrumentation is as unusual as the mix of characters who play the individual parts. The band’s bizarre rock sound is driven by two synth-itars--keyboard synthesizers with guitar-like headstocks that the band Devo made famous in the early 80’s--played by Mr. Call and Greg Travis, who’s a computer programmer by day. Behind them, acting student Peter Hale plays a standard rock drum kit alongside former thespian Holt Richardson, who trades beats on his electronic drum pads and cymbals. Mr. Richardson also occasionally sings lead with Mr. Call. Sanford Livingston and Phil Lojerfo--who recently left the band, changed his name to the Pluto Nash-like Sketch Jupiter and moved to Amsterdam--round out GCvAH on, respectively, bass/cello and guitar. (Spencer Chakedis, who produced One in a Million, has since taken Mr. Lojerfo’s place.)
The resulting sound proves an ideal fit for Mr. Call’s disaffected lyrics, although it’s not exactly accessible. But like adolescent cigarette-smoking, once you get over the initial distaste, addiction’s just a few steps away--and hey, it’s the cool thing to do. -Ben Chace, New York Observer
Ever seen Being John Malkovich? It’s an incredibly intelligent, often hilarious film, but in breaking every movie rule the filmmakers also tossed away that dramatic staple, A Protagonist We Care About. We’re left with a lot of great ideas but no reason to feel anything other than apathy. Interesting, yes, and worthy of comment, but not exactly a movie you want to watch repeatedly.
The same can be said of German Cars Vs American Homes and their staggeringly obtuse One In a Million, an album inarguably worth listening to once in order to glean the band’s razor-sharp wit and worldview. As for repeat listenings, you’re on your own. The album is pure genius without soul. Oh, there’s soul music, including a delirious skewering of Kool & the Gang’s “Ladies’ Night” into a morbid dirge on “F6 Song”, but there’s no emotional hook. The band spends so much time identifying, with alarming precision, what’s wrong with pop culture that they forget to include any solutions or reasons to care.
“New Recruits” is the “Casiotone Nation” for the post-punk set, on which various subcultures and sects indirectly blamed for the downfall of society - everyone from mothers-in-law to Robin Williams - announce their need for fresh meat. Meanwhile, the chorus of “Vacuum”, which is literally “V-A-C-U-U-M, I’m in a vacuum, V-A-C-U-U-M, V-A-C-U-U-M”, is so deconstructionist I felt myself clawing for the door even as it embedded itself in my head. The band is shrewd, smacking of grad students up to no good. “Waste of Time” is technically great funk, and “Soup Kitchen and Silly Jazz” boasts a subversively catchy one-step-behind time signature. “Tag Along” is a deadly accurate portrayal of the modern party scene told mostly through “Sweater Song”-like dueling monologues. The band knows their stuff. Literally hundreds of pages could be devoted to the tricks, twists and genre-defying spins the band puts into every song on the album, and from their snub-nosed take on life I get the feeling they’d buy a copy of that book and find something wrong with it, no matter how reverential or critical it was. I don’t have that kind of space, so I’ll just call it one of the most densely packed, meticulously produced and irony-drenched albums I’ve ever heard. In fact, if there isn’t already a term like “post-ironic,” it ought to be coined specifically for this album. Simply put, One In a Million is what happens when obviously intelligent, bizarrely gifted musicians with a lot to say spend so much time connecting with our heads that they forget to make us feel anything other than apathy by the end. - Justin Kownacki, Splendid E-zine
Justin Kownacki has 3 heads, one for analyzing things, one for drinking cocktails, and one for looking resentfully at women who may pass by. He spends his rare hours listening over and over again to “Is She Really Going Out With Him” by Joe Jackson and denies that the world faces an oil shortage. All that being said, though, he’s not really that bad a guy. His first review of GCVAH, “German Cars vs American Homes In Action: A Post-Analytic Guide to the Economics Behind The Band” was indeed meticulously researched, with a gripping narrative. He’s also an excellent shuffleboard player. Our many hours spent on the yacht together have provided a deep bond between us both, which this [somewhat] negative review cannot truly alter or sever. - James Call
There is something seriously wrong with German Cars vs. American Homes. The group, five strong at the Sidewalk debut, played some fairly tight creepy rock, as led by the Real James, a recent Fort émigré who sounds a little pompous, a little precious, all on his own. With the group behind him (featuring the typical drum, bass and guitar), the sound is more fluid, more rock and rolly. But with the supplementary creepy organ keyboard, and the Real James’ own strap on keyboard, the sound is huge, and strange, and, fun, and, well wrong. It’s hard, but it’s not rock. It’s too quirky to be rock. It’s quirk rock. Though, maybe that’s what these freaks are aiming for. From the magazine they put out to support the show, German Cars vs. American Homes have a vision, a twisted, sense of what they are about. And maybe it’s not about rock. Maybe it’s about NotRock. Maybe it’s about
QuirkRock. Maybe it’s not wrong at all. Maybe German Cars vs. American Homes is right. -Jonathan Berger, AntiMatters
Jon Berger is a truly, truly scary man whom we all love deeply. When I’m president, unfortunately, I WILL have to have Jon thrown in prison. It’s a sad state of affairs but there’s really nothing that can be done about that now. I haven’t seen Jon in a few years but I hope he’s doing well and I’m sure he’s still frightening audiences with his cutting-edge poetry. -James Call
....German Cars vs. American Homes was up next and their exciting and fun act was seriously weird. The seven band members approached stage as crabs (walking sideways, arms akimbo) and with the exception of the bass player they all played keyboard guitars. As their documentary “guy” filmed everything they did, but wouldn’t tell anyone what he was doing or what was going on, the band rapped, screamed and did call/response type antics for their set. -Courtney Pulitzer, Courtney Pulitzer’s Cyber Scene
Oh Courtney, I wish it had really happened that way. Unfortunately only two of us played keyboard guitars. Seven would just rock WAY too hard! Still, you sound like such a nice girl, and with a name like that, I bet you’re smokin’ hot. We should get together some time. -James Call
German Cars ROCK MY ASS! The first time I ever heard *German Cars* I had an orgasm and this band continued to please me ever since. This is especially in regards to the hot megatalented singer, the real James. He is one crazy bunny. Definitely some cool sounding stuff. I’m impressed that you developed your idea to the extent that you did and I love the fact that you are making a soundtrack for something. I wish my high school math teacher did stuff like that.
German Cars vs. American Homes kicked Hamilton College’s Ass. An inspiring performance; So much so that one young man went home, and set about breaking his apartment with bottles, set to the tunes of “One In A Million.” We are being brainwashed.
These guys are far out man! Word up, yo! This music makes me want to put my rear butt in reverse! Demons, the evil spirits of the departed nephilim, roam the earth tormenting and afflicting mankind. I am ugly.The contention is: that it would be fairly easy to determine if time travel will ever take place in the future.... by zeroing on what kind of events or persons future time travelers would be most likely to wish to see or visit. Then, look carefully at the dozen or so strongest historical or contemporary characters or occurrences for signs that anomalous occurrences, coincident with “time travel” technology, and/or unusual persons who stood out as being where they probably should not have been. GREAT EARTHQUAKES, TSUNAMI, DISASTERS, etc. In a surprising number of examples, unusual lights in the sky” have been seen around the time of major earthquakes. Could time travelers or their unmanned observation probes have wanted to record or witness such events? In spring of 1912, a three-headed ball of light was seen sailing over England. A month later, the Titanic sailed and sank in mid-Atlantic. Could observers from the future have witnessed this event? Could they have even come aboard and sailed with the Titanic, and “beamed up” or gone back into the future just before the ship sank? Pick some of the most important figures from history, the kind that someone, even 500 or a 1000 years from now, would still want to go back in time and visit! OK, just for argument’s sake, J.C. Who that was every on this planet time traveling wouldn’t want to go back and check-out Jesus Christ??!! So, let us look in on him at various times in his life and see if the presence of Time Travelers from the Future might be detected! The story. The planed is green and lush. You can smell the rich earthly smell of dirt. The soil is dark and has a strong smell as it breakes apart in your hand. There are tall grasses, about 2 feet that lean from one side or the next. -STARtRAygun1966@SoldierintimebyRAyThomASgAER13End
I don’t know what this is but this is clearly the greatest review we’ve ever recieved. -James Call
Quirky, artsy, and energetic are some of the ways to describe German Cars vs. American Homes. Comparable to Landspeedrecord, the Aquabats, Devo, and Frank Zappa, they hardly have a formula when composing music. Aside from singing, spoken word and even conversations are used to deliver lyrical content. Regular instrumentation is augmented with cello, keyboards, toy piano, vacuum cleaner, and “human metronome,” whatever that is. -AL