I wonder what is considered as being successful with houseplants? Beautiful bloomage? Must write that one down. I’ll ask Montreal weirdo rockers Notta Comet if they can prise themselves away from creating oddball, off kilter, mathy rock for long enough to talk to me. Also, fun fact: that was the first time I have ever typed the word prise. Had to check the spelling. It’s a word I use frequently in my speech, but never wrote it before. Another fun fact. Success With Houseplants is the trio’s debut LP after a slew of EPs etc. and the best way to describe it is probably angular, jagged even and weird. Definitely weird. What are some touch points? Well, it has a certain Minutemen (you know, those dudes that do the Jackass theme song) vibe for sure in its eclectic and experimental instrumentation, and seemingly random but rather funny and intelligent lyrics. This is a good thing. Minutemen rock. And so do Notta Comet.
Let’s start with the eclectic and experimentalism. Expect irregular rhythms. No need for your typical 4/4 rock beat here. That’d be too convenient. Opener ‘Colonial Authorities’ lurches all over the place. It’s kind of like your best friend when he/she gets super drunk: careering all over the footpath, and decrying God and his “moribund church”. This is a common theme throughout the record. ‘Subways’, ‘Don’t Upset My God’, and ‘Flower Song’ have particularly abrasive rhythm changes. It’s a lot of fun. I can imagine people making complete tools of themselves trying to keep up with these on a sweaty dance floor. All flailing arms, and super quick jerky movements.
The record is quite mathy, and jazzy. Intricate, super fast guitar lines play over John Entwhistle having an epileptic fit bass lines, while the water tight, and adventurous drums keep the whole enterprise afloat. Witness the opening to the superbly named “Somebody Outta Burn Down Ray Kurzweil’s House” (he’s director of engineering at Google). A mind bending circular LITE-esque riff is played over seriously jazz inflected drums, and a deceptive bass-line. Quality stuff. Meanwhile, ‘Flower Song’ sports a dissonant, straight forward hard rock sections, and urgency. Tons of urgency.
In lyrics and delivery, the band have their tongues firmly in cheek. Let’s have a sample: “Sometimes I catch myself wondering , what happens to the homeless cats in the wintertime, if the luckier ones sit on their sunbeams and radiators, and judge them for their bad decisions,” from ‘Paradoxical Undressing’. So this seems pretty much like fun nonsense, and, you know, maybe it is. There’s also what the band refer to as “musings on the failures of grand ideés, and the successes of the quotidian”. And this can be seen vividly in “Fascism” which seems to chronicle a person’s disillusionment with any ideology really, and ‘Flower Song’ which opens with the wonderfully vivid and mundane, “Oh look, it’s noon again, and the picked plaster peelings, from my prone prying, have finally encased the pillow, I think I should get up and piss.” It’s like Harvey Pekar, or Richard Linklater. Celebrate the every day!
So, back to the houseplants. I don’t know how much success the band have had with them, but they’ve certainly had success crafting an interesting, fun, and challenging debut record. The playing is precise, the tracks are infectious, and a good time will be had by all. The band claim that they, “play bike rock”, “scientist rock”, and also simply “play with rocks”. I’m sure they do. Keep it up, good sirs.
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