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MP3 Vending Machine - The Chamber From Here to There

A bizarre combination of lo-fi avant-folk, noise collage, and hipster pop.

16 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Modern Rock, ROCK: Emo

Almost coming across as a super lo-fi early Talking Heads album, with Grant yelping out nonsensical lyrics with all the sincerity of David Byrne while song structures evaporate into hidden choruses and time changes, the peculiarities and imperfections are the strengths of The Chamber from Here to There. Case in point, the opening "Happy Customer" chugs along with snappy strummed acoustic guitar and understated drums with lyrics to the effect of "if you receive something from a vending machine, if it exceeds all expectations, you''ll have a happy customer," before breaking into a demented chorus of "Hee hee hee ha ha ha"s. Needless to say, when not inspiring the songs are certainly entertaining. In many ways, the thrown-together nature of the recording has much in common with the earliest Beck recordings, where humor played as big a role as technical proficiency. Also reminiscent to Beck are Grant''s ruminations on the seemingly inconsequential events of everyday life.

"Taped Over Tape" is actually about having your favorite tape taped over, just as "Sand it Down" seems to be recounting a typical day for a 6-year-old, watching time creep by, wishing the mail came twice a day, and wondering where certain noises come from. Other songs border on the downright bizarre, with the funky psychedelic groove of "8 til Late" as an apparent homage to a nearby store where you can get your ears pierced and "a friend of a friend got stabbed in the face" though "it could happen any place." Similarly strange is the sincere piano balladry of "Natural Neighborhood Chair," recounting the tale of a girl named Cassandra who made a potion that turned one of her friends into a tree stump that the local kids use as a chair. So, while Grant isn''t exactly writing protest songs, his vision is still infinitely more interesting than hearing some overly-emotional kid scream about injustices that he doesn''t understand.

Still, Grant does head down some almost unlistenable side-roads. "Chocolate Guitars" is a quirky funk workout about looking for chocolate guitars that were stolen by "some evil imp," with pleas to keep them away from heat and out of the sun to prevent their melting. The tuneless tip-toeing chord progressions of "Together" bring to mind Captain Beefheart''s more random sounding arrangements, with indecipherable lines like "all in a line eeor, shade a rhythmic day together eeor." It''s possible that some listeners will have their patience tested at various stops through the album''s 16 tracks. That''s not to say that Grant can''t incorporate fairly conventional sounds into his mix, with the solid garage band hooks of "Grunt Once" finding favorable comparisons to early Jonathan Richman recordings, just as the sing-songy folkiness of "No Context" provides a more straightforward detour.

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