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Album review: Something & the Whatevers - We Sold Our Souls For Wicked Lulz

I have two very early memories of music that shaped me into the sonic appreciator I am today.

Sure, I had a lot more music exposure than that, but two moments have always specifically stuck out to me as influential. One is being forced to go into another room and shut my ears whenever Weird Al’s “Nature Trail to Hell” would come on. I can’t remember whether it was because it scared me or I was still young enough that hell in that context was a bad word, but whenever “Theme from Rocky VIII: the Rye or the Kaiser” finished up, it was exile time for me. The other is rug burning the crap out of my ass falling down a flight of stairs from spastically dancing to TMBG’s “Birdhouse in Your Soul”. Regardless of how awkward those two events may sound (and my fictional therapist might agree with you), like any well-adjusted human, I find asylum in the memories of the music that molded me as a child. Less than thirty seconds into We Sold Our Souls for Wicked Lulz, the new album from Lawrence’s three-and-a-half-piece robot nerd rock outfit Something and the Whatevers, I am taken to that happy place.

 
Listen, hipsters. If you are the kind of person that judges someone solely by the inches of beard they wear, regularly wears overalls but is not a farmer, thinks you “totally get” where Vonnegut or Bukowski were coming from, or proudly proclaim you were the first person to ever discover Arcade Fire or the National, you are going to hate this record. And for that (and probably many other things), you are stupid.
 
This is a deliciously odd collection of engaging and humorous songs. Definitely more R-rated than the previously mentioned Yankovic or band of Johns, it tows a very interesting line of profoundness and absurdity. At times the songs coo with frivolous innocence a la Jonathan Coulton, other times they skank their way across a thesaurus of adult themes and curse words like a Green Jelly b-side.
 
Any number of joke bands come to mind across the twelve tracks (Bowling for Soup, The Bloodhound Gang, Tenacious D, etc), but in contrast there seems to be a wrinkle of irony that thematically creeps out of the funny farm. Whether breaking down every popular song ever written in the album opener “We’re Not Even Trying” or still trying to figure out what this whole life thing is about in the Dropkick Murphy’s-sounding emo cutter anthem “Slacker Blues,” S&tW manage to remain ridiculous and poignant throughout, exhibiting great balance of style and substance. “Note to Self” is a Devo-meets-System of a Down tryst, with synths that practically scream 1983 repeatedly mashed against trigger-happy double bass drum and scream-sung vocals.
 
This album gives hope to rock ‘n roll misfits like myself. To anyone that has spent too much time watching Megaman speed runs on Youtube, to anyone who knows who Stan Freberg and Tom Lehrer are, to anyone that still remembers how to calculate THACO, to anyone that is upset that Google Translate does not offer a Klingon option, to anyone that spent many a morning at school in a daze due to staying up until 2 am the night before listening to the Dr. Demento show. Nerds unite, in the form a solid and thoroughly entertaining forty minutes of music.
 
Make sure you catch Something & the Whatevers at Davey’s Uptown on Saturday night, April 26, with The Lusty Flowers, The House of Gray, Mr. and the Mrs., and 88er. $6, 21+. Facebook event page.
 
--Zach Hodson
 
Zach Hodson is a monster. He once stole a grilled cheese sandwich from a 4-year-old girl at her birthday party. He will only juggle if you pay him. I hear he punched Slimer right in his fat, green face. He knows the secrets to free energy, but refuses to release them until Saved by the Bell: Fortysomethings begins production. He is also in Dolls on Fire and Drew Black & Dirty Electric, as well as contributing to various other Kansas City-based music, comedy, and art projects.
 

 

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