I Brow Club

The Bobs

Rounder Records, 1997


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


[ Editor's note: This review was first published under Daily Vault Founder Christopher Thelen's pseudonym Bob Pierce.]

C'mon, let's face it... how could I pass up reiewing a band with a name close to my heart?

Part novelty act, part a capella act, The Bobs are a group that show many moments of brilliance on I Brow Club, despite some flaws.

The foursome -- Joe Bob Finetti, Richard Bob Greene, Lori Bob Rivera and Matthew Bob Stull -- have taken a page from the Bobby (hmm... there's that name again) McFerrin school of music and use their voices to be all the instrumentation they need. (Welll..... there's one instance of piano on this disc - which actually ruined the mood for me. If you tout yourself as an a capella group, stay that way!)

The comedy is somewhat hit-or-miss, and occasionally even thought-provoking. "Hey Coach, Don't Call Me A Queer" is a prime example of this duality. The references to the coach as a "Marine corps drill instructor" is somewhat laughable, yet we all can relate to the subject matter, having survived the mandatory gym classes in high school. "A Change Of Heart" is a little more serious - the story of a person assuming the identity of an organ donor whose heart they received.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

However, "Is It Something I Said?" -- complete with the story of the post office worker going... whew!, almost made a terrible pun! -- I found to be not funny at all. In one sense, it seemed like The Bobs were trying too hard to impress the listener, down to the punch line of the song (the act caused by an "overdose of Rogaine"). Sometimes, it's better to sit back and let the joke tell itself.

You want an example of my last comment? Three words: "The Vapor Carioca," a song which is both funny and tuneful at the same time. Rivera's handling of the lead -- in the vocals and the story -- is what seals this one for me. Another example of this is "Leisure Suit," complete with a reference to "In The Year 2525" (trivia question: Who performed "In The Year 2525"? Bonus: Name another hit they had. E-mail me with the answer.), makes fun of the '70s fashion fad that never seems to die.

There are moments of more serious music on I Brow Club -- "Swingers" is a killer jazz number that kind of reminds me of Manhattan Transfer, while "The Crow" -- complete with Barry White-style delivery -- simply kicks.

And, of course, there are one or two failures. "Bongwater Day" is a track that held so much promise, but just fell on its face right out of the starting gate. "Why Not Try Right Now?" will bore its way into your head, but it leaves something to be desired. Still, that's not bad for the course.

The biggest problem with I Brow Club is that an album of all a capella music takes some time to get used to -- even I couldn't make it through the disc on the first run. Sure, it's worth making the effort and seriously listening to the disc, but many listeners won't have the patience to do so.

In fact, it is on the repeat listens that portions of I Brow Club really begin to shine. The layered vocal beats on the opening minute or so of "The Crow" is brilliant, and the snippet "Like A Parrot" is both humorous and oh, so true.

If you're getting tired of the grunge-alternative-industrial flavor of the week and crave something different, then I Brow Club definitely is worth your checking out... but be prepared to put some effort into the listen. I swear it's worth the time, or my name isn't Bob Bob Pierce...

Damn! Now they have me doing it!

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rounder Records, and is used for informational purposes only.