It is not the first time that Bluesbunny has reviewed an album from Baltimore based band The Agrarians (one of their albums even made Album of the Month!). This is lo-fi home brewed music possessing a quirky even oddball charm.
Part of their charm is those lyrics. All the way through this album you encounter all sorts of weird phrases - "intoxicate lovely housemaids, dresses blessed and beds well-laid". Where else do you get that kind of Beefheartian poetry? Maybe the Agrarians live in the back of a time travelling Volkswagen camper van listening to psychedelic music and taking all sorts of excellent drugs with no artificial colours. Or maybe not but the question is really where does this all come from? "The Shadow Plays" has echoes of Tom Waits and leaves you will a strange feeling that is part emptiness and part joy. Then the drum machine gets dragged out for "Be My Wife". This Germanic style electro perversion would appear to be an ode to womanhood. Only there might well be PVC and bullwhips involved somewhere along the line. Judging from Matt Perzinski's pleading vocals, somebody has been a bad boy…
Trying to convey what this album is about is not an easy task, by the way. "Where All the Wise Men Go" starts off like an outtake from a John Carpenter soundtrack only there won't be any Kurt Russell type action in that film. More like bearded hippies with axes murdering their way to the truth. Then finding out that there is no truth and murdering their way back to where they started. Next to the Bluesbunny ears is "Circumvent and Invitation". This is (almost) a conventional folk song but you get the feeling that there is some undefined passion underneath it all driving us to dance naked round the stones at dawn. The cheap drum machine makes a reappearance on "Take It to The Streets". God knows what that one is about but you get the feeling that it is something sordid. Using what sounds like a backwards guitar to disturb our ears, "Two People Shorten A Road" evokes a feeling of loss but also of hope if you are lucky enough not to have to face life alone. Or at least that is what Bluesbunny thinks it means. Well and truly open to interpretation is that one. Rounding off the album is "Take the Drug" which should probably have been named "I've Taken Some Drugs and Now Only I Know What I Am Singing About". Those Beefheartian influences again. Sometimes you deserve danger money for doing reviews as you can feel your mental health deteriorating.
The Agrarians plough their own furrow and are to be commended for that. Their music might be a bit too much hard work for some but it does reward perseverance. Funnily enough, even though it is not entirely clear what the songs are all about it does not leave you confused and unsatisfied. In fact, Bluesbunny was left pondering on life in general afterwards and how these songs fit into it. There is a bit of magic in there somewhere and you don't get that with a Kylie album.
Available by mail order from MT6 Records.