Critical Mass


Reviews of The Horse's Tongue


From the glass-half-full bliss of "Life is Sweet" to the mournful folk dirge "Emmanuel Blanket," Sacramento, CA's resident pop genius Anton Barbeau scores a winner with this diverse collection of melodies -- the first he's committed to CD. With a whole lot of catchy mixed with a healthy dose of wacky, pop junkies the world over won't find a more exhilarating fix on any other street corner. Lilting vocals one moment, bloodcurdling screams the next, the lad is dandy whether sensitive or randy. There's a story within and behind every song, but only Anton knows for sure where the truth ends and fantasy begins. Nevermind ... just sing along with his bubblegum jingles and nothing else will matter.


BACK OF A CAR #2, Fall 1995

Anton himself from Anton Barbeau and the JoyBoys sent BOAC a review copy of their CD The Horse's Tongue (idiot records). Scott Miller of the Loud Family produced/played on "All I Need is Everything" and the music is poised in the GT/LF direction--lush harmony vocals, samples/tape loops and lots 'n lots of guitar. While there are no songs about cars there is the "Pudenda Song"... life's a trade-off, isn't it?


POPsided, 1996
by John M. Borack

California's Anton Barbeau (no relation to Maude's Adrienne as far as I know) takes a pinch of Lennon, a bit of Syd Barrett-ish whimsy, some Scott Miller-like obtuseness and tops it off with a bit of Michael Mazzarella to create a very tasty pop recipe on The Horse's Tongue.

Aided and abetted by Scott Miller on one track--the absolutely addictive "All I Need Is Everything"--Anton and his JoyBoys provide plenty of other left-field pop pleasures, including the smartly-titled "Losing You Makes Crucifixion Easy" (sample lyric from the book of Anton: "You made me kiss you/kiss you on the mouth/Blegggh!"), the pretty and sedate "Heather Song", and the forceful, hot'n'heavy "Emma" (May we quote A.B. again? "I'm gonna love her in the Catholic tradition/it's an awkward position"). Another "you gotta hear THIS" tune is "Andrew Burke Can't Sing", a bizarre sing-songy, seven and a half minute tour de something, which sounds like how "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" might have sounded had John Lennon recorded it post-Primal Scream therapy. And any self-respecting fan of pop music--hell, pop culture--will laugh his or her ass off as a tortured Anton screams "Too much R.E.M.!!! Oh My God!!" (That's about four minutes after he emotes "Four more, your mother's a whore/ five, six, seven, eight/ I'm a dolphin!"). If you like your pop on the adventurous side without kissing off melody altogether, investigate this disc.


POP SUNDAY, February 1994

Born under the astrological sign of Taurus, Anton Barbeau began writing songs at age thirteen. Girls and drinking tea are his hobbies, and he has released six homemade solo cassettes. About five years ago, he formed the JoyBoys, who now feature lead guitarist Don Hawkins, bassist Creed Maggoria, and drummer Erik Kleven. Arguably one of the hottest acts in and around the Sacramento region, the band has had the honor of sharing bills with an array of notable folks such as Mary's Danish, Gin Blossoms, Jellyfish, and the Bay City Rollers. Or maybe I should reverse that and sat those bands have had the honor of sharing the bill with Anton Barbeau and the JoyBoys! This is no hype, for here's a band bound for stardom. Their debut CD, The Horse's Tongue, is a pop junkie's dream, whirling and twirling to a colorful exposition of vibrant rhythms and infectious hooks that can't be ignored. Anton's biting tunes frequently veer in the direction of oddball insanity, reflecting a profound Robyn Hitchcock influence, who is indeed his hero. "Losing You Makes Crucifixion Easy " consists of the wicked stuff soap operas are made of, warbling the pathetic details of a relationship gone sour, officially ending when the girlfriend washes his favorite shirt in the wrong kind of water. "People Like..." is tons of fun, but you have to listen to it real hard to catch the names it rattles off. Four minutes of power pop heaven, the perky "Magazine Street" rocks relentlessly to a mean melody. Have a box of Kleenex handy when you spin "Emmanuelle Blanket", a dreary ballad about the death of a homeless man. Scott Miller of the Loud Family makes a guest appearance on "All I Need is Everything," another banner number characterizing the undeniable pop genius of Anton Barbeau and the JoyBoys.


REVOLUTION, November 1993

Man, oh man. This CD immediately grabbed me and didn't leave my CD player for a few days. The boys did it up on this 14-song disc. I honestly love it all from the first tune, "Magazine Street" to my favorite "Losing You Makes Crucifixion Easy"--"Porcupine Song" rips too! How did it take me so long to hook up with this? This album is so very "poppy," but the sound, recording quality, and musicianship is all superb. Not your average killer band--better!



Sacramento's resident pop-star-in-waiting, Anton Barbeau has been a favorite on the local music scene for years, fronting his pop/rock band the JoyBoys. On his debut CD, The Horse's Tongue, Barbeau is in his finest form, bringing together his capricious musical style with the wry humor of his lyrics. Songs like "Losing You Makes Crucifixion Easy" and "The Porcupine Song" showcase Barbeau's considerable talent and range, and earmark him for greener pastures. This album is a testament to both his accomplishments and his promise.

Arguably the best lyricist in the Sacramento area, Barbeau is a master storyteller with a flair for catchy hooks. Occasionally he can be dogged by the theatrics of the moment but his bandmates--Erik Kleven on bass, Don Hawkins on guitar and Creed Maggoria on drums--manage to ground his eccentricities. The song selections here are audience favorites; "The Heather Song", "Losing You Makes Crucifixion Easy", along with new material such as "Life is Sweet," which Sacramento Bee critic David Barton called the best local song of 1993. Overall, the strong songwriting combined with the musical chemistry of the JoyBoys makes The Horse's Tongue one of the most enjoyable, memorable, and playable CDs of the year.


SHORT CUTZ, December 1993

One of the coolest records to come down the pike in a while has to be this attractively packaged disc. Being a sucker for a good hard rockin' pop song (with a twist, if you please), it should surprise no one that this baby hasn't made it outta the tray of the CD player since I got it. The Horse's Tongue is 14 songs that beg comparison to XTC, Robyn Hitchcock, Let's Active, and (dare I give the kiss o' death) yes, the Beatles.

Balance an ultra-keen melodic sense (nearly every song has a monster hook) with lyrics that are clever and drop-dead funny/cynical and what you have is an album that easily outdistances a lot of the radio-ready major-label...uh, stuff. For jangle-pop, melodic, smart rockin' enjoyment, Anton's Horse is an odds-on favorite.


YOU COULD DO WORSE #3, Winter/Spring 1995
by Rob Galgano

Got this in the mail direct from Anton who had picked up YCDW#1 on the strength of our Loud Family interview. He was quick to point out the Scott Miller connection. Scott produced one track here, "All I Need is Everything." According to the liner notes, this song contains "the most unbackwards-sounding backwards guitar solo ever recorded." I have to agree. (The notes also say that Scott "wears his Pop Genius mantle like a true fireplace.") It's one of the straighter songs on an album that contains "Ella" and "Pudenda Song," tunes that lead me to label the JoyBoys as some sort of perverse Game Theory. There's also the gorgeous "Christina Box", the bouncy "People Like...," and "Andrew Burke Can't Sing," which reminds me a lot of Big Dipper's "Ron Klaus Wrecked His House." Listen closely to this album and you'll also catch a couple of funny Beatles references. Not everything is good here, but there's certainly a lot to like.