Sunday, January 10, 2010

Review #39: Ween - The Pod (1991)


Year: 1991
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
Label: Shimmy-Disc Records
Tracks: 23
Length: 76 Minutes (Very Long)
Style: Weird/Happy/Sad/Funny/Mysterious
My Rating: 8/8

Ween is an alternative rock band from New Hope, Pennsylvania that formed in 1984. Ween released a series of underground, little-known albums throughout the '80s, but Ween eventually left their first label, "Bird O'Prey Records", to sign to Twin-Tone Records, and released their first record, "God Ween Satan" in 1990. After that, they signed to Shimmy-Disc Records, the label that they would release "The Pod" on. The Pod is said to be their most "challenging" work, and it might be for some, but I think any true Ween fan will love this. While Ween's music was mostly punk rock, as well as experimenting with other sorts of genres, this album marks their shift to the bizarre psychedelic rock, the style they are mostly known for playing.

With that being said, this is probably their weirdest album they did. Legend has it that they were high on scotchgard glue during the recording of this album, though the band itself denies it. Still, I'll bet they were on SOMETHING. Most "normal" people could only dream of making music this awesome. The album itself will make you feel at least stoned. It's got a very funny, odd, fuzzy, murky, but endearing nature about it. And it's one of the best works of Ween ever.

1. Strap On the Jammypac
I dunno if this was the intent of the song, but this one is too funny. Basically the same riff combined with clattering cymbals and one of the funniest-sounding voices ever saying "Stwap on da jaimmypac...", or some other unintelligible phrase, followed by a single beat of a drum. This just repeats over and over for several minutes in a hilariously annoying manner. I love it.

2. Dr. Rock
One of the more normal songs on the album (still very weird, however). It's a psychedelic-punk-type song with phasered-vocals. The song seems to center around "Dr. Rock", some type of superhero/doctor type of guy who you can call whenever you need help.

3. Frank
A slow, acid-drenched song. First mentions of the elusive "Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese" and "Mega-Weedge", two prominent items that are often mentioned throughout the album. The song is about a guy named Frank who is being asked by the song's protagonist for some food.

4. Sorry Charlie
This is a great one. It's a mellow, softer song with telephone-sounding vocals and a light stick-beat. It's half-sad, it's half-happy. The lyrics are about a guy named Charlie who's having a pretty shitty life and doesn't have enough money to support his girlfriend who's still in high school, and he has to resort to selling more pot. Nice to listen to when you're feelin' blue.

5. The Stallion, Pt. 1
"The Stallion" is a recurring character throughout the Ween universe. This is a really trippy song with bizarre vocals. It's actually somewhat scary. This song seems to actually be about some sort of tough-guy horse (the Stallion, of course!) who recons you not to fuck around with him.

6. Pollo Asado
This one is really funny. It's sort of another mellow, psychedelic song, but in the foreground is a hilarious skit about a guy trying to order mexican food. It's funnier than I'm making it sound. End of Side 1.

7. Right to the Ways and the Rules of the World
A song with some violin (or at least a synth) in it. Uses a lot of acoustic guitar, and vocals from both Gene Ween and Dean Ween. Not a ton of effects used on this one, but that's okay.

8. Captain Fantasy
A truly great song. It's a slow, hard, trippy song with sped-up vocals. It's just really good. What else can I say? This song is really legit.

9. Demon Sweat
A slow, soft song that makes use of synths. It's really relaxing to listen to. It's like a lullaby or something. I think they were really tripping out at this point. There's some vocal harmonies, as well. At two minutes and thirty seconds, the song suddenly gets louder with synth organs and a ridiculous guitar-solo. The song gets really off-tune during this point.

10. Molly
Sounds like a Butthole Surfers song. Really funky vocals combining a normal voice and a really high-pitched voice. And the quiet mumbling of "mollymollymollymollymollymollymolly...". Pretty slow and weird.

11. Can U Taste the Waste?
A short heavy-metal song whose only line is "Can U Taste the Waste?". EXTREMELY badass. Or "brown", as a lot of Ween fans prefer to say.

12. Don't Sweat It
A slow, gothic-sounding, dreamy song. There's a mid-section where the guitars get even more distorted and there's a beautiful little solo towards the end. End of Side 2.

13. Awesome Sound
A really weird funk song. Second mention of the "Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese". Actually somewhat similar to the Butthole Surfers. I even heard one of the vocalist use an exact same vocal effect involving taking a voice and slowly speeding it up as used in "Human Cannonball" by the Butthole Surfers. Towards the end, you can start to hear the two cracking up.

14. Laura
This is one of the best songs on the album, but I can't even understand what the fuck he's saying, here. The voice sounds extremely weird. Still, it has a very nice guitar-line. It all fits the mood of the song very well. Very slow. I really wish I came up with the riff for this song first.

15. Boing
The shortest song on the album (one minute and thirty-three seconds long). It's an extremely quiet, bassy song with extremely low-pitched vocals and mostly bass guitar (though a little rhythm guitar does try to creep out). Sounds like someone's fat grandpa snoring/talking in his sleep.

16. Mononucleosis
It's said that the group was down with Mononucleosis when they were recording this album. With that being said, it's a good song to listen to when you feel sick. It's a very echoey, depressing sort of song. "Now you're on the couch, you can't even move your fucking head... tell me that you wish that you was dead..." crap, if I listen to this song anymore, I might get sick myself!

17. Oh My Dear (Falling in Love)
A pop song. Probably the most normal-sounding song on the album. Really pretty guitar sounds. You just can't get a sound like this out of digital recording. Digital recordings hurt my ears, which is why a lot of new music (regardless of the actual song) sounds so unlistenable to me.

18. Sketches of Winkle
A punk song. My favorite part, however, is the chorus that goes "Sketches of Winkle, flying through the heavens in a fit of rage", followed by a great-sounding guitar lead. Another great song on the album. End of Side 3.

19. Alone
A very quiet, slow song. I read the lyrics, and I feel like I can relate. It's basically a song about those people who feel very alone, with few or no friends, as everyone else seems to move forward, and you're just stuck in the same shit forever.

20. Moving Away
A soft, reggae-sounding song. Similar to "Alone" in a lot of ways as far as the musical notes used and the riff, but it's more of a reggae riff. Gener and Deaner have never sounded more black. There's an R&B-sounding section at the end of the song, too. The song in general seems to be an impersonation of black music.

21. She Fucks Me
Another mellow song. It's a love song, the way Ween does it, anyways. Very calm and beautiful. Yet ANOTHER mention of the "Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese". In fact, that line is just repeated in the background throughout the entire sound. Despite the fact that the vocals are very slowed-down, they still sound very good. Wonderful-sounding guitars. Another really good song.

22. Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese
You saw this one coming. Or maybe you didn't. Anyways, this song is the culmination of all Pork Roll Egg and Cheeses that existed throughout the album. It's a very happy song with water-y sounding guitars. It's my favorite song on the album. There was a very rare music video for it with trash floating around the city streets and Dean Ween swimming at the beach shot with a Super-8 camera. It's really cool, and it was on YouTube for awhile, but it was taken down by Warner Bros., the corporate gluttons, even though they didn't even publish this album. I can't find it anywhere else, but I'm guessing it was on one of the Shimmy-Disc Video Compilations.

23. The Stallion, Pt. 2
The final song on the long, long album. A slow, groovy piece with weird vocals with the recurring line, "I am the Stallion, Mang." Hilarious yelled vocals at a part towards the end. Unfortunately, that's the end of ze record.

Wow... what a trip. This is pretty much one of the greatest Ween albums of all time. It was also their last on an independent label for awhile. After this, they were invited to become artists on Elektra Records, a label owned by Warner Music Group. They released "Pure Guava", which was of a similar style to this album to some extent, but still not nearly as weird as this one. Still, I like "Pure Guava" slightly more. But this album is just as good. Many would consider it better. They are probably right. But what the fuck? Ween is great. Listen to this album if you like weird music. It's very un-mainstream but it's almost pop. It's happy but it's sad. It can make you laugh and cry simultaneously. Like, if you laughed so hard that you started crying. Or if you cried so hard that you started laughing. Drugs will only enhance the experience. This album is great to listen to even sober. Fuck anyone who says otherwise. Ween is one of the greatest bands ever.

(There were actually three music videos made for "Pollo Asado", "Captain Fantasy", and "Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese" created for the Shimmy-Disc Video Compilations, but they are extremely rare on the internet and I cannot find a single copy, so I can't show you any of the videos for it. But they're pretty cool. They look like the album sounds.)

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