Critical Mass

 

Reviews of Drug Free

THE SUNDAY TIMES (London)

Anton Barbeau represents the Sacramento chapter of that nameless coterie of enduringly reliable, acid-tinged singer-songwriters that includes XTC's Andy Partridge, Robyn Hitchcock, Julian Cope and the Bevis Frond's Nick Saloman. His new album bathes beautifully constructed, thoughtfully arranged songs in a fading psychedelic sunshine, and it would be many casual consumers' album of the year if only they got to hear it. "Alphalpha Bhang" is a snake-charming slow burn, while "Boncentration Bamps" is lysergicly incoherent and inexplicably affecting. Why buy George Martin's rebooted Beatles? Classic guitar pop isn't dead. Four stars.

 

TERRASCOPE ONLINE
by Tony Dale

Much of what is written about Sacramento singer-songwriter Anton Barbeau has been genealogy-by-numbers, tracing his work back through a fairly obvious lineage to the heyday of UK psychedelic pop. Let's try and not do to much of that that here, because his work deserves better, having the strength and uniqueness to be evaluated in light not shadow. In the Village of the Apple Sun was one of the finest releases of 2006, and in many ways, Drug Free is a companion piece to that brilliant, acid-drenched blotter of songs and sound-sketches. Drug Free, like its predecessor, has a knack of firing hooks into your cerebellum in a way that makes them difficult to dislodge—days, not minutes or hours being required. Above all, Barbeau knows that at the core of all good psychedelic pop there must be genuinely memorable song-craft, otherwise the construct either flies apart like the psyche of someone on the worst of trips, or is impenetrable like the consciousness of one of Philip K. Dick's burnt-out co-travellers "who were punished entirely too much for what they did". It's all in the balance.

The title track is an entirely fitting opener, playing ironically with the concept of the artist set adrift creatively without psychotropic assistance. "I lost the will to write, to strum and to sing" is the sentiment conveyed he complains to a fictional doctor while seeking some "prescription bubblegum", but it is clearly not so, for the song is a fine slice of twisted pop, made more eldritch by decontextualised vocal contributions from Sharron Kraus. Pete Townsend once wrote about the songs stopping once the drugs stopped, and the same concerns seem to be addressed here. "Leave It with Me, I'm Always Gentle" is classic hummable Barbeau, very much recalling Robyn Hitchcock (maybe without the shellfish obsession). And it has whistling... always a good sign for this genre. "Just Passing By" is a genuinely deathless slice of power-pop, with an iconic chord-progression, blistering leads, and a stunning tune along the lines of early work of the Teardrop Explodes, Echo & the Bunnymen and the Chameleons (sensing a thread there). Definitely one for future compilation albums.

While perhaps not being as consistent as In the Village of the Apple Sun, there is more than enough diversion in the material on Drug Free to please either the long-term Barbeau follower or the casual fan of psych-pop wanting to check out his work. And it's good to know that there are several other releases in the pipeline from this always intriguing artist.

 

KRUGER MAGAZINE
by Janne Oinonen

Anyone can dabble in psychedelia, but to do it Anton's way, with inventive aplomb that simultaneously celebrates and ridicules the hippiefied era's excesses, complete with an indigenously offbeat approach to lyric writing, deserves a resounding round of applause... Anyone not digging the Love-esque high-pitched guitar shrills of "Just Passing By," "Oh The Malaise"'s high-octane psych-folk or the sweet ballad of love between man and murdereress that is "Leave It With Me, I'm Always Gentle" must be closely related to "the man." It's not just about acid-fried Sixties fetishisms either—the rifftastic ramalama of "Magic Metal Apron" gallops towards T-Rex territory, whilst the nonsensical "Disco Dress" is an intoxicating oddity miles beyond categorisation. But nothing beats the faaaaar-out fuzz-fuelled quicksilver guitar freak-out the fragile wonders of "In A Boat on The Sea" erupt into.

 

PENNYBLACKMUSIC
by Andrew Carver

Anton Barbeau is one of a legion of American pop anglophiles. The Kinks, the Beatles, XTC and Robyn Hitchcock loom large among his influences.

In Barbeau's case, the favour been returned: He's recorded with the Bevis Frond and has two albums out on Dorset's Pink Hedgehog label. The first, Waterbugs and Beetles, is a re-release of his sophomore CD from 1995. The second, Drug Free, is his last but one, from 2006.

The two albums share definite similarities: Barbeau laid down most of both albums by himself. Nine other musicians came in to lend harmonies, the odd spot of drumming and a few overdubs on Waterbugs and Beetles. On Drug Free, Barbeau once again handles the lion's share of the music-making—he's credited with vocals, guitars, a variety of keyboards, bass drums, harmonica, woodwinds and "bird-calls and nonsense"—and pulls in another large collection of helping hands (18 in all, this time) to fill out the corners.

Both albums share Barbeau's most distinctive feature (and drawback): His singing voice. It's energetic (some might say manic) and tuneful but has a nasal, tremulous side that may rub some listeners the wrong way.

That said, Waterbugs and Beetles is definitely the product of reckless youth, Drug Free the product of a seasoned veteran.

Ten years [after Waterbugs], Barbeau has knocked out a slew of albums, co-operated with the aforementioned Frond fellows (on King of Missouri) and generally refined his craft. Older and wiser definitely suits Barbeau: He's become a much sharper producer. His singing is also less strenuous.

The stacked harmonies and piano that gild the title track of Drug Free make for a superb opener (they sound so nice that he tries it again on the brief "Lop It Off"). Added touches like the whistling on the suitably subdued "Leave It With Me, I'm Always Gentle."

"Just Passing By" is a full-bodied pop piece with a disconcerting lyrical undertow.

"Alphalpha Bhang" once again lays on the multi-tracked vocals for an epic, slightly druggy, tale of children discovering their parents up to no good (although exactly what is a bit unclear).

Barbeau gets strumming again for the deceptively bouncy "Disco Dress."

"Boncentration Bhamps" begins as a stripped-down acoustic number. Barbeau's simple, repeated lyrics "I don't like the sound of the boncentration bhamps... come away, sailor" are presumably an oblique take on current U.S. affairs with an extended psychedelic bridge.

"Magic Metal Apron" flies along on a dreamy chorus... just don't ask for the verses to make any sense (they seem to focus mostly on food).

"She Wears a Green Leaf" makes about as much sense, with the chorus describing the protagonist's sartorial habits (leafy, as the title suggests) and the verses being a barmy travelogue.

"Oh The Malaise" is an acoustic lament of too easygoing days which drift off suddenly to make way for another repeated acoustic number, "Circus of the Stars."

"In A Boat on the Sea" takes a leisurely tack, with neat little licks interposed between Barbeau's ruminatory lyrics.

"Alphalpha Drone" ends the album with a blend of backward guitar, surges of Farfisa and studio chatter.

Although it is about the same length, give or take a minute, as Waterbugs, Drug Free comes as a far firmer piece of work. The guitars are quieter, but the rhythms move the songs along in a far more determined fashion, and listeners will likely feel themselves more inclined to bop along. The only thing holding it back is a hideous cover portrait of the artist, which resembles a candid snap deemed unfit for the family photo album.

Both albums hold treats for pop fans: Some will prefer Waterbugs' scattershot songraft, quirky melodies and guitar crunch, while others will find the more refined Drug Free a more consistent pleasure. Both albums makes a good entry into Barbeau's catalogue.

 

POWER OF POP

You probably think you know Anton Barbeau by his obvious reference points – John Lennon/the Beatles, Syd Barrett, Bob Dylan, Robyn Hitchcock, Neil Young – but really, Barbeau possesses his own unique voice. Drawing from a diverse base that includes psychedelic rock (of course), whimsical oddities, fuzzed-out ragas, spacey folk ballads, power pop ditties etc, Barbeau imbues his eclectic tastes with a distinctive way with words. Never a dull moment.

 

PSYCHOTROPIC ZONE
by Dj Astro

Anton Barbeau from the States has been in a very productive mood since Drug Free! is one of the two albums by him in a very short period of time. That's a great thing, since I for one enjoy his pretty much 60's styled psychedelic rock/pop very much! Also this album was recorded with the help of many friends, and besides Ant there are 18 musicians involved on this album.

The track "Drug Free" starts with a short, harmonic vocal part by Sharron Kraus, and it's a pretty slow, The Beatles/Lennon styled psychedelic masterpiece with funny lyrics. The following track "Leave It with Me, I'm Always Gentle" that begins with acoustic guitar and vocals and grows gradually is another 60's styled number and includes for example some whistling and female backing vocals. After a short accapello vocal section comes the melancholic "Just Passing By" that is equipped with groovy percussion and has, more or less, borrowed its chord progression from "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Another winner, for sure. The slow and dreamy "Alphalpha Bhang" is an excellent track with beautiful organ work and could have benefited a lot from a sitar. "Disco Dress" begins with acoustic guitar and vocals and is a rather groovy, nice and a bit wacky number sounding a bit like the Swedish Dungen. This is cheerful and energetic stuff including among other things a funny part and a funky ending! The rather slow "Boncentration Bamps" starts off in acoustic folk spirit and has a quite weird drum sound and some electric piano. The rockier, exciting and interesting "Magic Metal Apron" has loaned a bit from "Little Drummer Boy". Then follows three short, acoustic folk pieces ("She Wears a Green Leaf", "Oh, the Malaise" and "Circus for the Stars"), after which it's time for the longest track on the album called "In a Boat on the Sea". This jamming, hypnotic and also heavy track begins in a tranquil, pretty and minimal way until it gets stuck in a repetitive, hypnotic swirl that grows and expands into very psychedelic proportions a bit in the kraut or space rock vein. This is what I like! "Alphalpha Drone" is just a short piece of guitar drone followed by a hidden track that has some female vocals, talk and laughter. This is another amazing album and warmly recommended!

 

THE RED ALERT
by Alexandra Keyes

Anton Barbeau released Drug Free alongside his '60s psychedelic pop-influenced In the Village of the Apple Sun. Whereas the latter album entailed donning a rather specific musical costume (which happens to suit him unbelievably well), Drug Free allows for a broader range of style and expression, with more diverse – and perhaps more interesting – results. Though he retains the '60s aesthetic, his influences extend into various styles of the '70s; and his lyrics, despite their enduring esotericism, seem to reveal a depth that the other album's almost childlike whimsy rarely permits.

The Lennonesque title track is a slightly paranoid, dream-like (hallucinatory?) account of improbable events, with even Anton himself wondering, "How much of this is real?" His vocals are arguably bolder than Lennon's, boasting a comparative robustness, as well as a talent for howling octave jumps. "Leave It With Me, I'm Always Gentle" could be a tender hippie love ballad, until the words reveal it to be a darkly amusing tale which really gets off the ground when he recounts, "She placed a ring upon my finger/ and a shotgun in my stomach/ and she turned to me and said/ 'Kiss the bride.'" Both musically and lyrically, the slow, trippy "Boncentration Bamps," and especially "Alphalpha Bhang," would have fit perfectly on Village, but here provide useful pacing between more intense tracks. In an almost gratuitous display of melodic prowess, he seamlessly weaves an acoustic "Little Drummer Boy" interlude into the gritty, glammy, electric "Magic Metal Apron" – and somehow makes it rock.

Perhaps easing his stylistic constraints on this album allowed Anton to shed at least one layer of obscurity; I wouldn't dare presume to know the real Anton Barbeau, but there are moments on Drug Free when he seems to puncture the incoherence with fleeting displays of candor. He interrupts the trivial mood of the stomping "Disco Dress" to declare, "I'm worried 'bout nothing less/ than when I die what'll happen to me," only to instantly reestablish levity by asking, "Will I be cold and hungry?/ Will a candy bar help me get through it?" In the melancholic "Oh the Malaise," he admits, "I think I love you," only to pull back with a noncommittal "Whose words are these?" Meanwhile, "Just Passing By" could very well be an earnest exploration of existential angst, although, true to form, this remains unclear. The oblique nature in which he addresses the issue, weaving a mysterious tale of distressed and confused characters, actually intensifies, rather than dilutes, its impact; incorporating the command to "cherish each moment while looking each other in the eye" within the dialogue raises the potentially platitudinous statement above the level of cliché. And is it just me or does he mumble, "I cry a lot when I'm alone" on the charming, folky "She Wears a Green Leaf"?

"In a Boat on The Sea" initially sounds like a Luna song inspired by Eno's dreamy "On Some Faraway Beach," until the rhythm section continues to chug along underneath increasingly distorted guitars, unleashing an extended Krautrock-style jam. At 11:37, it's the one moment of true anti-pop indulgence, and it's telling that Barbeau chose this moment to step out of the spotlight. Whereas other so-called 'quirky' songwriters might not be able to resist devoting any spare moment of excess to a self-congratulatory display of personal eccentricity, Barbeau – despite his talent for showmanship – has the humility to understand that the music is more important than the man. He may be offbeat, but he never loses sight of a good tune.

 

RUSTIC ROD'S ACHING CELLAR

The ever-prolific Ant & his buddies (18 of them on this lp), including Sharron Kraus & Alan Strawbridge, have produced another little masterpiece of pure pop-psych here. Although Anton definitely has a voice & sound of his own, the opening (title) track sounds like John Lennon, while track 2 could easily be "The Idle Race," and "Alphalpha Bhang" by none other than prime-era David Bowie. But although it's "lazy journalism" to make these "major artist" comparisons, it's only relevant when the songwriting and performance is this good. If only the lyrics and ideas of Jeff Lynne & David Bowie were as amazing as this in 2007 they'd be blaring out of every radio on the planet. And track 12 ( "In a Boat on the Sea") is absolutely stellar.

 

LEONARD'S LAIR
by Jonathan Leonard

[H]is main gifts are his songwriting skills... The songs range between easy on the ear tunes ('Leave It With Me I'm Always Gentle') and slow-burning epics ('Alphalpha Bhang', 'Boncentration Bamps') to rockier numbers ('Disco Dress', 'Magic Metal Apron'), with the best song probably being 'In A Boat On The Sea'; a wistful little number with a simple but addictive Eno-style melody.

 

DORSET ECHO
by Marco Rossi

Talk of cool and discerning labels leads us invariably on to Pink Hedgehog, set up by Weymouth's far-sighted and philanthropic Simon Felton, and now boasting an artistic roster which has to be the envy of labels with far more money and far less sense.

The latest batch of Pink Hedgehog releases kicks off with Drug Free by Sacramento-based wild card Anton Barbeau, who is gradually and deservedly becoming recognised as a songwriter of singular genius.

Drug Free is arguably Anton's most accessible work to date. The terrific title track would sit very comfortably indeed on the first Plastic Ono Band album, and "Alphalpha Bhang" shares its playful but darkly literate worldview with Syd Barrett's early compositions. Anton's lyrics are alternately hilarious and strikingly perceptive, and his songs have a way of burrowing under your skin to the point where they become one with your own corpuscles, and you never want them to leave. Comprehensively recommended.

 

ROOTS-AND-BRANCHES.COM
by Mike Davies

Sacramento's Barbeau's been slogging away for some years, this being his eighth album, but only now is he beginning to get a glimmer of mainstream recognition. Very much in thrall to the 60s, it's the more experimental end of the Beatles (Lennon especially on the title track), which provides the prime blueprint, though his Brit derived influences also dip into Julian Cope, Ray Davies, Syd Barrett and, the most recent trace in evidence, XTC. With tracks that run from 19 seconds on "Lop It Off" to over 11 minutes with "In A Boat On The Sea" with a couple clocking in under two minutes, he mines a fairly quirky psychedelic pop vein. He does dig out several nuggets too; the whistling, hand clap loping "Leave It With Me, I'm Always Gentle," an early Bowie-like "Just Passing By," "Magic Metal Apron" with its nick from "Little Drummer Boy," and the folksy coloured "She Wears A Green Leaf" and "Alphalpha Bhang" among the best things here. But, rather like titling one track ("Boncentration Bamps") after a Monty Python sketch, it does tend to overplay the quirkiness, suggesting he needs to do a little more refining before attracting the notice of the Flaming Lips fans he's got his eye on.

 

TRAKMARX.COM

There's something that I find strangely appealing about Anton Barbeau.

Drug Free sounds like it was recorded in the mid-seventies by a bunch of tripped-out, glammed-up, platform heeled hippies. Is this the dawning of the Age of Aquarius? Is the Moon in Uranus? No this is Anton Barbeau and they is faaaaaaar out!

I'd actually listened to seven of the thirteen tracks before I opened the case and took a look at the sleeve notes, only to find a pic of the band lolling about near some ancient standing stones. Class!

The vocals are tight and pleasantly strangled as if coming to your ear through a tin can and a bit of string.

It's quirky, infinitely musical, full of interest and hugely enjoyable. Fiddles, Hammonds, 12 strings and minor keys make for some easy listening while you're sucking on your bong!

This might just be your scene man. Boomshanka!

 

PLAN B
by Nicola Meighan

Harold Shipman dispatches epistles from the afterlife via Barbeau's Myspace. "Your music causes my flaccid pecker to awaken and point skyward", inscribes the belly-up Shipman, signing off "Your Loving Friend". We can thus deduce that Harold is a fan of cosmic, evocative, grizzly power-pop; that he enjoys simplicity of form and lyricism in songcraft; and that he oft retreats into a balmy familiarity whose choral repetition is borderline jarring. We can further presuppose that Harold's ardour for elementary structures, ambling psychedelia and light-hearted harmonies might stretch to The Beatles and Crowded House. But Shipman is not Anton's only obsessive: his home town of Sacramento, USA, recently stage a 23-hour "Anton-a-thon", in which scores of performers took to the stage and performed tributes to the deific Barbeau.

 

UNPEELED

I'm holding a press release that says "His sound is best described as Beatles-meets-Julian Cope-meets-Joe Meek pop odyssey." That the guy has got a good enough grip to rip off John Lennon is beyond dispute, but the real deal is that Anton Barbeau is edgier, splashing around the darker puddles of the Finn brothers solo stuff and taking his influences off to more formally rocky places and dragging Harry Chapin into the bad places. This is, these are good things, but why should you listen to, let alone buy this album? Easy, it rips off the right people, it's intelligent, it's wayward n willful and bombs your glam-connection with "Magic Metal Apron," the one that kind of wraps it all up.

 

UKMUSICSEARCH

Considered something of a cult hero on the underground US rock scene, Sacramento singer/songwriter Anton Barbeau returns here with his latest record, Drug Free. Released alongside another new album, In the Village of the Apple Sun, it seems that 2006 is shaping up to be a busy year for Barbeau.

Drug Free is a record that finds Anton Barbeau taking his Beatles meets Julian Cope meets Joe Meek psychedelic pop for a spin, delivering thirteen mesmerising songs for your listening pleasure.

Title track and opening song here, "Drug Free" sounds like an out take from Bowie's Ziggy Stardust period; Barbeau affecting a similar drawl and weaving a glam rock marvel into the process. The tender "Leave It With Me, I'm Always Gentle" is a more Beatles-esque slice of power pop whilst on "Just Passing By," Barbeau unleashes some dissonant guitar squalls and raises some hell. Continuing with a definite anglophile feel, "AlphAlphaBhang" has echoes of Tyrannosaurus Rex; a song dripping with hippy vibes and incense soaked attitude.

"Disco Dress" is a jaunty garage rocker with punchy power chords and sky high melodies, though that hippy vibe does surface again with a progtastic recorder solo midway through proceedings. Proving once again that this is a songwriter with a definite ear for timeless melodies, "Boncentration Bamps" and "Magic Metal Apron" are upbeat pop tunes that will have you grinning from ear to ear, although as a lyricist Barbeau is perhaps a little too prone to quirkiness that can begin to grate. An epic and sprawling slice of psychedelic pop, "In A Boat Song On The Sea" heads off in similar directions to The Flaming Lips or Mercury Rev, deviating from its simple pop roots to climax in a sprawl of psychedelic noise and Can like rhythmic shuffles.

A gloriously left of centre pop record, Drug Free sees Anton Barbeau bringing together the twin worlds of power pop and psychedelia on an album that charms, beguiles and bristles with imagination from start to finish.

 

FUSE, Gloucester, U.K.

Part of a dual release by Anton Barbeau, "the cult hero's cult hero." With a whole raft of previous releases this Sacramento-based psychedelic power-pop songsmith has gained international plaudits for his leftfield pop odysseys. With a sound reminiscent of The Beatles at their most extreme, or Teardrop Explodes' Julian Cope, Drug Free is quirky yet inviting melting pot of 60's harmonies, bittersweet lyrics and pop sensibility. The titles track opens the album with a Lennon-esque vocal style and lilting melody. The remaining tracks swim easily by, from the frankly bizarre "Lop It Off" to the modern-day Beatles meet Nirvana sound of "Just Passing By." "AlphAlphaBhang" is a vaguely Eastern sounding acoustic groove through pop's more diverse waters. "Magic Metal Apron" goes electric again with a driving, trippy, hedonistic roam through late 60's psychedelia. At times making forays into territory once held by English psychedelic folk-rock the album closes with "AlphaAlphaDrone," with a further exploration of Eastern themes once so loved by 60's British rockstars. Unique, individual, never predictable and always unexpected Drug Free is a treat.

 

MANCHESTER MUSIC
by Simon Brown

Sacromento, USA, is where you'll find artist come musician Anton Barbeau brewing another slightly psychedelic cocktail of folk and trippy soundtracks. "Lop It Off" is one track that uses harmonies, acoustic guitars and piano and Barbeau's voice. All of this is half influenced by the Beatles (see "Circus For The Stars") then contemporarily flavoured with a deep tone, at the same time, possibly accidentally creating the atmosphere of The Flaming Lips. Proof enough that Drug Free possesses a fine, new idea for modern indie/pop. "Magic Metal Apron" sounds like all of this cross bred with a Suede track, whilst "In A Boat Song On The Sea" sounds like a folk outing glued onto a New Order guitar / bass track, which seals the fact that this strangely compelling album actually picks out all the right flavours from a wide ranging palate of sounds.

 

NEW-NOISE.NET
by Eddie Robson

This album couldn't be any more Beatley if it was small, black and concealed a pair of somewhat fragile wings under a shiny carapace. To be more specific—because The Beatles had one or two changes of musical direction, y'know—it's late Beatles and early solo Beatles, much like last year's hugely enjoyable Dr Dog album. If you have any Beatlegeek friends, why not compete to decide which specific songs the tracks here resemble? Within the opening seconds of the title track, you'll be arguing between "Dear Prudence," "Instant Karma!" and "Oh! Darling."

This makes Drug Free, Barbeau's eighth album, sound like an exercise in copycatism, which isn't fair at all. His frazzled power-pop also takes in Julian Cope, XTC, Syd Barratt and The Kinks: like any self-respecting Californian psych-merchant (see also Ariel Pink, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Warlocks) Barbeau clearly knows his British guitar-pop. Christ, there's even a song titled after a line from a Monty Python sketch ("Boncentration Bamps").

It successfully pulls clear of its influences and establishes its own identity, as you'd expect from such an experienced artist: unfortunately this identity becomes wearing over the course of an entire album, with a touch too much wackiness and not quite enough wit.

 

ZEITGEIST
by Phil Jackson

I'll start this review with a link: Anton live

On it you'll see Anton and his band singing the title track live in San Francisco, an interesting alternate take on the album version on which I thought for a minute I was listening to a John Lennon song. A strong start then! Backed by a myriad of musicians, Ant keeps up the standard achieved on previous releases (including one King of Missouri where he collaborated with The Bevis Frond). "Leave it With Me" takes things along nicely with a nice bit of country rock. "Just Passing By" has Steve Randall on "jangle/ phase" guitars and Ant on lead and some uncredited hand drums. This is one that will stick in your head. "Alpha Alpha Bhang" has more of the psychedelic Beatlish touches with guitars variously effected. Throughout Ant has many stories to tell and many idiosyncratic touches and musical snippets that make me think Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention may have hit his radar at one stage. This is confirmed on the satirical "Disco Dress"—the old Farfisa adds to the "cheesiness" and he even has his own Suzy Creemcheese in there. Alan Strawbridge provides the guitars and rhythm section on the heavy "Magic Metal Apron" with its references to mango chutney and poppadums and a quotation from "The Little Drummer Boy"—curious! The crowning glory of the album though is the 11:37 of "In A Boat on the Sea," its preposterous beauty transcending all that has come before. The laid back twin guitars of Dave Middleton and Steve Randall work a treat and the rhythm section of Larry Tagg and Brad Cross make a telling contribution to a visceral atmospheric vibe that goes, like some Grateful Dead jam, nowhere in particular, part of its attraction I suppose. That's not to take away from the rest of the album wherein lie some real musical gems!

Another interesting and contagious release from Pink Hedgehog!

 

LORD LITTER, Germany

... one of those excellent examples where a true indie musician created an own new sound... based on decades of music... far from beaten path sound... unique and always tasty and high class... so why does the official music world ignore him?... well... simply... too intelligent for today's Blunt-ism poisoned masses... that is why I like EVERY album by Anton Barbeau ... this is just another VERY GOOD one!!

 

HIGH BIAS
by Michael Toland

Drug Free!, which was recorded with much the same cast as [In the Village of the Apple Sun] (including [Sharron] Kraus and [Alan] Strawbridge), and has much the same feel. (Hell, "In a Boat On the Sea" is even more blatantly psychedelic than the Villagers.) Perhaps slightly less trippy than Village for the most part, Drug Free! emphasizes the songs' hooks and melodies over atmosphere. Thus seemingly joking cuts like "Magic Metal Apron" and "Boncentration Bamps" (title and chorus borrowed from a Monty Python sketch) are married to great melodies that will keep you singing to yourself for hours trying to figure out what he means. (A common occurrence in Barbeau's universe, actually.) Like other celebrated eccentro-pop tunesmiths, however, Barbeau is hiding emotional kicks behind the wordplay—listen carefully to "Oh the Malaise," "She Wears a Green Leaf" and the title song and you'll find more than just eyebrow-cocking cleverness. Indeed, "Just Passing By" and the absolutely lovely "Leave It With Me, I'm Always Gentle" are the most straightforward songs he's yet done. (Maybe.) Everything here is awash in catchy melodies, with will be enough for any pop-smart consumer's eardrums. Drug Free! is slightly less quirky than In the Village of the Apple Sun, but no less excellent.

 

SWISS RECORDS (Switzerland)
by Robert Pally
(This review was automatically translated from the German original.)

Anton Barbeau confesses on his web page openly that he steals the Loud Family and other one regularly from artists like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, XTC, Robyn Hitchcock, Julian Cope, Brian Eno, David Bowie. That makes it pleasant in two kinds. First of all, because he admits something, what many different also do, but does not admit. Secondly, the American steals at least of good volume. On his new work Drug Free are that above all the Beatles in addition, Syd bar-saved and once hear one a trace of the parliamentary group Crowded House/Split Enz ("Magic metal apron"), completely with a excursion to the Weihnachtsklassiker "Little more drummer boy." Another time goes it to instrument valley nearly as too with Sonic Youth and ago ("In a boat on the sea"). The album title is not however only on one level correct, if it concerns Barbeau, at least looks he in such a way. The work a trace Psychedelik is musical, speaks drug influence, to agree upon not paired with a Quäntchen irony ("She wears a green leaf").

 

MOFO (Brazil)
by Rubens Leme da Costa
(This review was automatically translated from the Portuguese original.)

In one year extremely prolific for Anton, in launching terms—three, counting this—the bard of Sacrament in offers them with plus a full workmanship of brilhantismo, creativity, mood and letters more than what inhaled. Drug Free! (great heading) the record of the year is strong candidate.

One more time, Anton touched almost all the instruments and counted on aid of some friends. The result is simply surprising, estarrecedor and shining: Drug Free! it is since already my favourite record in all its immense discografia.

The record opens in the band-heading, an excellent band where it drains its immense sense of mood. The second band "Leave It With Me, I'm Always Gentle" is certainly one of the best moments of 2006, with its letter beirando the nonsense and its cativante melody.

After one short vignette —one of its marks—Anton in offers them with another wonderful band —"Just Passing By"—where has resquícios of "My My Hey Hey" of Neil Young in the two first seconds of guitar, by the way, touched for it, Anton.

The slaughter follows with "Alphalphabhang" and the unusual "Dress Record", taken off of records of years 70. Obviously, a record that speaks of drugs would need to have a band to the style Grateful Dead, what the Boat happens with long (more than the 11 minutes) "In on the Sea", that Jerry Garci'a would applaud of foot.

The record closes with another classic signature of Barbeau, a vignette without name.

The record was launched by the Pink Hedgehog and is one of the launchings most succulent of this year. If it will be able, it acquires it, without scares!

 

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