Monday, May 08, 2006

You Am I Am You Am I Am You Am I

Convicts, the new album by You Am I, comes out on May 13th. This band is far better known in their native Australia (and in Europe) than they are here in Yanquiland. You might remember "Berlin Chair", their bid for airplay during the grunge years, from their first album Sound As Ever (which was produced by Lee Ranaldo). Their second album, Hi Fi Way, was also produced by Ranaldo, and included Epic Soundtracks and Jon Auer among the guest musicians, but it failed to make a dent on these shores. The third You Am I release, a song cycle called Hourly Daily, was HUGE in Australia -- but again, not here. Number Four Record was produced by George Drakoulias, who did big things with the Black Crowes when they had just changed their name from Mr. Crowe's Garden and their sound from jangle-pop to blues-rock. But Number Four Record was the last You Am I album to come out on a major label in the US.

The second, third, and fourth You Am I albums went Number One upon release in Australia. Aussie bands like Jet (who started as a You Am I cover band), Powderfinger, and now Wolfmother have had the benefit of better US promotion (by iTunes in particular), but Down Under bands like these OPEN for You Am I, and You Am I only opens for the Stones or the Who. I never understood how a clearly inferior band from Oz like Silverchair got as much attention here as they did, when You Am I was making better records, rocking harder live, and touring the US with Soundgarden and others.

Enough of the historical perspective. To me, the amazing thing about the first four You Am I records is the progression the band makes from Nirvana wannabees to a power trio with influences that include early Kinks, Stones, and the Who; the Stooges, Dolls and KISS; the power pop of Big Star and the Replacements; and (on the last album) the Big Easy rhythms of Little Feat. Tim Rogers is a talented songwriter and a compelling frontman, and he has the good fortune to be backed by a world-class bassist (Andy Kent) and a monster drummer (Russell Hopkinson, who also plays with the reunited Radio Birdman). This trio added lead guitarist Davey Lane for the albums Dress Me Slowly and Damage (the latter of which was actually released in the US by SpinArt the year after it came out overseas).

I have so many favorites in the You Am I catalogue that it's hard to choose, but this is my favorite of their songs in the power pop vein, and I can't believe it was just a b-side on a bonus disc with their live album Saturday Night 'Round Ten. The lyrics should find sympathy among those of us who are wellsprings of trivia, and my hat is off to anyone who would think to rhyme "Iron Maiden" with "Charlie Haden".

You Am I: Useless Information

Visit You Am I and grab over 40 free mp3's.

7 Comments:

At 5/08/2006 5:11 PM , Anonymous piehammer said...

I once rhymed trebuchet with bezier.

 
At 5/08/2006 10:55 PM , Blogger Amy said...

Am enjoying the Hypnolovewheel now. Like Pleasant Valley, esp. Though I'm not entirely sure this sounds like Butterglory. These guys are way more sophisticated:)

 
At 5/10/2006 1:05 PM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

Amy, I guess I didn't choose the more shambolic material from Hypnolovewheel to represent them, but trust me on the similarities.

Piehammer, you are just a showoff.

 
At 2/17/2009 9:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an awesome song. does anyone know all of the last verse?
Years on...these are the full lyrics I know, can anyone help or correct?:

I got a plan its dumb and simple gonna take everything you need and leave it at a front door aww but turn me off before i start again i gotta keep my mouth shut because it's gonna give me up, the king of things residual and cheerio all this useless information in my head. That girl aint white bread- she's raisin toast and jam, standing in the corner shootin arrows with her hands but i'd tell her that I love her, I'd tell her but I cant, all this useless information mussin up my head. Awright c'mon. Listen,I know .......................................................................... that got a window on the year, the month, the album cover compilation breakfast jingle but turn me off before i start again i gotta keep my mouth shut because it's gonna give me up, the king of things residual and cheerio all this useless information in my head. That girl aint white bread- she's raisin toast and jam, standing in the corner shootin arrows with her hands but i'd tell her that I love her, I'd tell her but I cant, all
this useless information mussin up my head. Yeah I've spent too much of my minutes, just standing on my feet, breaking laces, souls/soles and braces, missing all the heat. Aww tell me who's your lover boy, tell him to his face yeah
Got a minute now to tell you just exactly how I feel about Iron Maiden, Charlie Hayden...................She aint white bread- she's raisin toast and jam, standing in the corner shootin arrows with her hands,i'd tell her that I love her, I'd tell her but I cant, all this useless information mussin up my head. Aww c'mon. all this useless information in my head

 
At 2/18/2009 9:45 PM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

I think he's actually singing "the king of things residual and trivial".

And my favorite part: "exactly how I feel about Iron Maiden, Charlie Haden, (something something), mashed potatoes..."

Otherwise I think you've got it!

 
At 2/19/2009 5:29 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey...thanks for replying!

I am suitably amused at my mistake! You are very much right, it is trivial. Thanks!
Guess I am just used to Mr. Rogers throwing in obscure food references to his lyrics.
When I was younger I did this silly fanzine page listing the different constants you would find in You Am I lyrics. It's surprising- for such a skinny man- food references topped alcohol, cigarettes, haircuts and pants.
Here are my top three:
"Just cause I'm spoonfed on Milo and cheese- don't be shootin every dog just cause one of us has got fleas- Baby Clothes*
**"(she's)A Welsh Rarebit with a new dress on...if that aint enough to make you smile. And every Kintail Road kid knows, when she's around their cheese goes dry"- Mr. Milk**
***"We could live on mashed potatoes beer and leave the shitty neighbours behind"- Forget It Sister- Hourly, Daily secret track***

And not to mention some of the most beautiful lyrics buried away on single b sides. I own just about all the You Am I singles released...and that might seem a bit OCD...but, not really. Always, always, always have marvelled at the songs that will never be released and how it's such a shame. One of the many reasons You Am I never got big: it doesn't seem like they actually want to be. And for their unpretentious honesty it makes the secret no one else'll ever know em tracks all the more sweeter I have this mix tape of 40 of my favourite You Am I bsides and it damn near makes my toes curl. You know- I've met Timofy twice...and you can bet I bumbled like an idiot both times even though he seems a very shy sweet man offstage. I mean, goddamn, what do you say to a man who can make fried chicken from Kentucky's romantic?
P.s- If I really really had to choose- my favourite You Am I bside/song is probably "who turned out the lights" from the Trike single.

 
At 2/19/2009 5:47 PM , Blogger jonderneathica said...

"Who Turned out the Lights" is indeed a great song. I was once fortunate enough to meet someone who shared a wealth of YAI b-sides with me. If I had to choose a favorite (other than "Useless Information"), I might go with "Gasoline for Two".

Food does seem to be a fixation. Mashed potatoes appear again in "Useless Info"! Maybe someone should make a YAI cookbook. I once thought about listing the songs in which Tim Rogers mentions drying his shirt (another recurrent image). Thanks for stopping by again, Anonymous!

 

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