Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Future That Was
Genres: Alternative Rock, Folk, Pop, Rock
Perhaps Josh Joplin's greatest gift is his self-awareness. On "Happy at Last," one of the tracks from the Atlanta native's second album, he admits, "I sound like Michael Stipe / I dream like Carl Jung," beating to the punc... more »
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Perhaps Josh Joplin's greatest gift is his self-awareness. On "Happy at Last," one of the tracks from the Atlanta native's second album, he admits, "I sound like Michael Stipe / I dream like Carl Jung," beating to the punch those detractors who complain that his idiosyncratic adenoidal singing sounds astonishingly like those of the R.E.M. frontman. Whether the startling similarity is an accident of geography or design is immaterial, since it's Joplin's wry self-deprecating lyrics, clever wordplay, and brainy illusions that make you take notice. "I'm not the only cowboy in this one-horse metaphor," he sings in the anxious "I Am Not the Only Cowboy," adding, "I am not the only Caufield catching more than kids." In the space of a single song, Joplin's canny self-awareness curdles into self-absorption; in fact, it would be safe to say he identifies rather closely with J.D. Salinger's most famous character. Like Holden, Joplin not only has a fascination with death--references to the great equalizer are threaded through most of the 13 songs--but he also has quite a problem with growing up. "Time just hates me, that's why it made me an adult," he whines on "Must Be You," returning to a similar theme in "Siddharthas of Suburbia," when he decries, "The future is a stereo that eats your favorite tapes / The soundtrack to your youth cannot be replaced." But despite his raging neuroses, Joplin is a zany storyteller, whether he's writing a love song to his trampoline (where he admits he comes up with some of his best ideas for songs) or reinterpreting the Bible on "The Future That Was." Josh Joplin is a talent to watch. --Jaan Uhelszki
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Not 'Useful', but Still Good
BJ Fraser | Michigan | 12/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"JJG's "Useful Music" is definitely one of the CDs I would have to take with me to a desert island, so it stands to reason that any follow-up album wouldn't be that good. "Future that Was" isn't as good as "Useful Music", but taken on its own, its another great album by my favorite group no one has heard of.The first time I listened to it I was a little disappointed, but after hearing it a couple times I got into it. "Must Be You" is my favorite track because the chorus gets stuck in my head all the time. The zany lyrics that really made "Useful Music" stand out from any other album I've ever owned are still present and even though I don't get all the references, I appreciate that these are not your typical "I love you so much" or "I want to sleep with you" songs that we're all saturated with on the radio.I'm really pulling for them to break through into the mainstream, although I do worry a little about what the band losing its edge if that ever happened. Still, buy this CD and "Useful Music", because in a land of prepackaged pop bands, JJG is the real deal."
Biggie-Size that Sound Josh
M. Swinney | Flower Mound, TX | 11/13/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The wit is there. The song craft is there. The pop figure allusions tossed about at will, the sing-along fun, it's all there. What's missing from, "The Future that Was," that made JJG's '00 release "Useful Music," one of the best new releases that has came out in quite awhile? Granted it's not much that is missing, but it's noticeable enough.It's almost as if some of the sound is not there. Did the band let Josh down this go around? Was it a change in producers from Shawn Mullins (he of the '98 smash hit Lullaby) for "Useful Music" to Rob Gal for "The Future that Was?" After close inspection of the band that composes the "group" of JJG, here's my theory. With "The Future that Was," Josh is one guitarist short. Gone is D. Davis that gave JJG such a full sound, leaving them only half-hearted on "The Future that Was." Take a comparison of the two album openers. "Matter" from "Useful Music" has a mean guitar growl that fuels the song, a perfect compliment to Josh Joplin's catchy irreverent and intense voice. On "Must Be You" "Future's" opener we have a catchy enough tune, but the bridge guitar is a weak repetitive droning that barely carries the song and sounds like underproduction readily apparent to a fault on some indie label discs. Not that JJG has made its sound from big guitars, but everyone knows the true value going through the Wendy's drive-through. Don't just settle for the normal value meal, Biggie-size it Josh!!Don't let this critique scare you off from "The Future." I don't retract my statement that JJG is going places and is a real diamond in the dulled coal world of the recording entertainment world these days. There is much to enjoy here. JJG is at his most lyrically witty here. In "It's only Entertainment" Josh joshes on a lawyer pretending to be "To Kill a Mockingbird's" Atticus Finch, "he's everybody's mensh...But when it comes to stature he only counts the size of other men's desks/He's counting every inch, he's counting every inch." It doesn't get much funnier than that. Oh but wait there is stuff to rival it. In "Trampoline," Josh takes the point of view of his Trampoline and strangely enough has the old testament on his bouncy mind, "Some people wish they could be like Moses/And get their information from burning bushes/Well I tried but the neighbors complained/I set their lawns aflame." Heh, heh, heh, and heh!The album's standout is "I am not the Only Cowboy," with a unique enough sound and catchy enough hook that it could stand with the best on radio airplay across the nation. The probability that you won't hear it there speaks volumes of how much radio is letting us down these days (just ask Tom Petty, he knows). The song borrows heavily from Lou Reeds' "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" but puts a JJG stamp on it with a little spoken word and a memorable chorus, rendering it infinitely listenable. But when the single strings note kicks in you can almost hear Lou Reed's back up girl's singing, "...and all the colored girls go doo da doo da doo..." The tune isn't a "Camera One" equivalent, but it holds it's own. In "The Future that Was" JJG cries for a treasured youth that he has barely grown out of, laments the state of rock n roll, and keeps his songwriter's edge. In "It's Only Entertainment," Josh sings, "Save us Polly Jean, we know not what we mean," throwing in a reference to PJ Harvey and her stripped down raw music. Next studio go around, take a listen to her '94 release, "Rid of Me," and like PJ did, Biggie Size those guitars boy."
Great New CD from Great Group
joegoodman | New York | 09/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I must say I fell in love with Josh Joplin Group's music with their last amazing CD "Useful Music". I was excited that they had a new CD coming out but a bit scared they would go through a typical "sophmore slump" . Well I am very happy to report this cdis more of the same from the Josh Joplin Group, which is a very good thing.
Josh Joplin is amazing songwriter and once again there are some wonderful songs on this CD . t is rare these days to be able to put on a CD and not have to skip songs.
Highly recommend this CD!"