I often like to revisit bands from the past, bands I loved from the past I should say, just because I get bogged down by not having anything I want to listen to really. And then I’ll think to myself “hey I haven’t listened to so and so or such and such record in such a long time and then I’ll listen to it and it sounds incredible, like even more incredible than when I was really into it the first time.
For a guy whose approaching 40 and hasn’t kept a steady girlfriend for longer than three years since he was sixteen I think that’s pretty mature of me. The band I happened to revisit recently was the late great Pavement. I can tell you no matter how hungover you are when you wake up, waking up with a purposefully inane Stephan Malkmus lyric in your throbbing gourd makes feeling like complete shit just a little less shitty.
The Oakland goof-rock outfit Vincent Gargiulo National Park reminded me a bit of Pavement in the way they call attention to themselves in a jarringly funny way. They are begging for attention yet not so much because they want attention but because they know that’s what many bands with no sense of humor are essentially saying while trying to “sell themselves” if you’ll excuse my awfully unoriginal use of such a colloquialism.
They get it done right away on “The Enchanted Intro” the first tune from their self-titled debut Vincent Gargiulo National Park. They introduce the instruments in the intro calling out the “one pounding snare” and the bass that will “pulsate to hold your hand” and then sing “cuz Hot Sax is forthcoming” which is followed nonetheless by a hot sax solo. This silliness and the sax too makes its way into the subtly hilarious and ‘80s sounding “80's Theme Song,” which along with it comes a pretty hilarious and ‘80s themed video.
And it’s worth noting that singer Vincent Gargiulo formed this troupe of musical nonsense after floundering around for a few years as a filmmaker and soundtrack writer before recruiting bassist Ian Mesey, drummer Jasper Skydecker, saxophonist/keyboardist Jeremy Greene, guitarist Joe Morishige and vocalist Alisa Damaso, the latter whose sweet vocals provide an endearing female aspect of comic relief to many of these songs.
It should be noted though that one shouldn’t lose themselves too much in the oddballness of these songs all the time. “The Sofa That Nobody Wants To See,” however hysterical is musically excellent. Each player here is spot on in their notations and the compositions are spot on. This goes to even further levels of excellence on the B-52’s inspired rocker “Hands In Pockets” and the They Might Be Giants with a bit of funk added tune “Save Laura” and shows up again on the wonderful and beautiful “Ariel Take It Away.”
With their self-titled debut Vincent Gargiulo National Park have knocked it out of the proverbial park. Though the lyrics are precisely hokey they are also witty. They are much like Talking Heads a band that seems at first glance to be a bit silly. But this is of course a con, a wool over the eyes. These songs are lyrical slapstick in the vein of Charlie Chaplin. Vincent Gargiulo National Park may just be the record many people need in their live for these dark and uncertain times which likely lie ahead.
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