100 Under 60

The Hit & Mrs.

Independent release, 2006

http://www.thehitandmrs.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/17/2006

Those of us old enough to remember the days when the Guinness Book Of World Records was an actual paperback volume rather than simply another corporate brand with a Web site can recall the unique pleasures of discovering the lengths to which some people will go in order to be noticed.

And truly, other than earning some sort of baseline recognition of your existence during your time here on earth, why else would you do something like hold eight live rattlesnakes in your mouth?  These kinds of stunts don’t really lend themselves to high ideals like earning respect or making a difference.

So what, then, can one say about a band that not just cooks up but follows through on one of the most demented and potentially pointless exercises in extreme sports (musical division) that I’ve ever heard of?  The Hit & Mrs. are Nelson Heise (vocals/guitar) and Robert Heise (bass/vocals) of The Heise Brothers and drummer Stacie Archer, and what they have achieved is as simple to explain as it is difficult to comprehend: a recording project consisting of 100 distinct and different songs, every single one of them under 60 seconds.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I didn’t call 100 Under 60 an album in the previous paragraph because it isn’t available in album form, existing currently only as a Web site from which each song streams.  The entire collection is also expected to be available for download very soon via iTunes.

With such a high-concept project it would be easy to yak yak yak about the set-up and overlook the music itself.  The Hit & Mrs. have a bit of the musical chameleon to them, of course, or they couldn’t possibly pull off 100 songs on one “album” without boring the listener to tears.  Amazingly enough, they do pull it off, veering all over the stylistic road from their home base of occasionally thrashy, consistently disheveled and slightly snarky neo-classicist rock, a core identity that makes me think of a sort of post-modern, smartass version of the Troggs or the Kinks, or maybe if Pearl Jam traveled back in time and tried to make it as a late-60s British Invasion act.

Some of these tunes are basically one-line jokes extended to 60 seconds; others cram a surprising amount of exposition and denouement into the tiny space, and still others play sly by leaving out words altogether.  Is this cheating?  I don’t think so; even the dozen or so instrumentals here have an imaginative flair to them and do cleanse the aural palate nicely between musical costume changes.

Guitar solos or other instrumental indulgences are a rarity here for obvious reasons.  They sneak in a few into one verse “songs” like “Moses,” but for the most part 15 seconds counts as a long wordless intro.  Daylight’s burning!  Personally, I found it hard to resist skipping around checking out beguiling song titles like “Buyin’ Your Lies,” “Purple Ballerinas,” “Flooded Basement,” “Cuz From WI,” “Criminally Insane” and “4th Grade Fight.”

In the end, although some of these song-lets achieve a kind of shambling, quick-witted brilliance, almost like musical limericks in their neat self-containment, the real value lies in the sheer bravado of the effort.  This is not so much an artistic achievement as a celebration of creativity itself.  I wouldn’t necessarily call 100 Under 60 one of the best albums I’ve ever heard, but I would definitely call it one of the purest in terms of achieving its goals on its own terms, with no compromises and total commitment to a purpose.

To put it another way, these guys are nuts -- but in a good way.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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