Critical Mass


Reviews of King of Missouri


As a prime exponent of melodic power pop, the Sacramento singer-songwriter Anton Barbeau has XTC's Andy Partridge somewhere near the top of his influences list. Now Partridge himself is a fan of Barbeau's eloquently crafted music. The brilliant title track of his seventh album is just about as good as the genre can get, with a driving riff, 1960s vocal harmonies and appropriately bittersweet lyrics... King of Missouri was recorded in Bromley, of all places, with the help of Walthamstow's veteran psychedelic rockers the Bevis Frond, who embolden Barbeau's singer-songwriter tendencies with a crisp, vibrant backing. On "I Don't Like You" they prove the perfect pairing, sounding like Bob Dylan fronting some great lost British freak-beat band.


by Lee Zimmerman

They may seem worlds apart, at least geographically, but Anton Barbeau, pop rocker from Sacramento, California, and Bevis Frond, neo-psychedelic Brit-rock band of underground residency are closer in proximity than their far-flung locales might suggest, especially in sound and spirit. Barbeau, who's recorded six previous albums under his own aegis, lists Andy Partridge as his musical mentor while the Frond sound checks the Soft Boys, Julian Cope, and Pink Floyd in their prog-rock ramblings. Their new collaboration, King Of Missouri, draws in all their collective influences, resulting in a '70s-sounding celebration of English outlandishness, one that suggests an unlikely alliance of Strawbs' Dave Cousins fronting Mott The Hoople. Specifically, "Sweet Creature, What's Your Name?" sounds like a brash outtake from Ziggy Stardust. Album opener "King Of Missouri" boasts the flash and sizzle of Sweet, T. Rex, or Hanoi Rocks in all their glam-rock glory. The searing "Retabulation" allow the Bevis boys to exercise more of their '60s sensibilities. It's the combination of attitude and aptitude that makes this a must for any Anglophile or, for that matter, anyone who misses the over-the-top bluster of an earlier era. Wham bam -- a grand slam!


by Corin Ashley

The candy floss 'n' currant buns England that exists in Barbeau's head is probably more glamorous than the Bromley studio where he and the Bevis Frond recorded this album. But the actual location seems to have unleashed his inner-Bowie, and the Frond respond with appropriate Spiders From Mars gusto. There's a lot to be said for mutual admiration and a limited budget when making an album. Airborne on a sea of raw enthusiasm, these absolutely excellent songs sound a bit like a heavy version of the Soft Boys -- Mott the Hitchcock, perhaps? Barbeau truly deserves to lose "cult favorite" from his artist bio.


INK 19
by Bob Pomeroy

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Anton Barbeau harnessed the talents of his collaborators to serve a set of well crafted songs. Barbeau keeps things tightly focused, resulting in a disc of pleasantly off-kilter songs. Lyrically, Anton paints idiosyncratic portraits of unusual people. The title song is about a seemingly clean-living woman who exhibits some bizarre behavior and may be a stalker. Anton sings about interesting girls in coffee shops, clothes, offending friends and people he doesn't like. All in all, King of Missouri is one of the stronger rock records I've heard in ages.


by Anthony Mark Happel

Re-issue of 2002 record by Sacramento-based Barbeau. He became fast friends with the Frond after he and his band opened for them. Subsequently, Barbeau teamed with Nick Saloman and the boys to record this album. Filled with various flavors of rawkish pop tunes that contain shout-outs to the late 70s and early 80s, you can hear Tommy Keene in these tracks just as prominently as Alex Chilton. Nick Saloman, of the Frond, considers Barbeau's songs to be timeless and you can hear why with the dreamy elements of a song like "I Remember Everything." He's all over the pop music landscape with his songwriting, and most of this turns out to be better than a white-hot paperclip in the eyeball, but the real reason to hear this record is a song entitled, "Octagon." It's pure as driven snow, and it exists on a cloud all its own. It's one of those rare songs that elevate an otherwise commendable record to the status of strongly recommended. Among several eclectic recordings on the Bongobeat label.


by Jennifer Kelly

Backed by The Bevis Frond's Nick Salomon and Adrian Shaw, culty Sacramento eccentric Anton Barbeau has created a minor masterpiece, a blend of hooky Nuggets pop melodies and wryly perfect lyrics. King of Missouri is the kind of pop album that insinuates itself immediately into your head and remains there, unflaggingly, unboringly, because it is so much odder and more interesting than you first realize. As Salomon declares in his section of the album's very amusing liner notes, "The guy is an immense talent. Full of superb pop ditties that have that magic quality of being totally original, but sounding like you've always known them." And he should know.

The Barbeau/Bevis Frond partnership began at a shared Sacramento gig in 1999, proceeded almost immediately, to Barbeau's being signed by Salomon's Woronzow label and culminated a short while later in a joint recording session at Gold Dust Studios. The resulting album is a nearly perfect balance of pop buoyancy and rock muscle, the sweet spot between soft melodic hooks and mind-warping psychedelic distortion. It sounds, in spots, very much like Bevis Frond ("Octagon", "I Remember Everything"), though the songs may be a bit less English-folk-based and a little more 1960s garage rock than Salomon's work.

The disc opens with its title track, a power pop juggernaut built on tangled, jangled guitar lines and a Who-worthy melodic hook. "The King of Missouri" is a girl, surprisingly enough, the kind of female who has launched a thousand pop songs. She's absurdly idealized, as girls in songs are apt to be, yet Barbeau is too smart to leave it at that. "All I want / is to know you know the difference / 'tween the myth and the machine / 'tween the kingdom and the queen / 'tween the surface and the sheen," goes a late verse, slyly suggesting that this upside-down-book-reading, teetotalling, crown-wearing paragon is a pop fiction, and you know it as well as he does.

King of Missouri benefits immensely from Salomon's guitar work, a viscous, enveloping stew of fuzz and muscular melody. "Octagon", one of the Frond-ier tracks, is almost swallowed whole by its guitar solos, which spiral note by rising note out of the chorus and slip their bonds entirely in a late-track break. It's a kind of beautiful chaos, erupting out of a tightly structured song, an elevator ride into the extraordinary.

Barbeau, whose self-declared greatest achievement is something called "The Banana Song", has an exuberant sense of humor, best demonstrated in "I'm Always Offending My Sensitive Friends" and "Cheque's in the Mail". The second song is a loser anthem tour de force, a catalog of wishful thinking and settling for second best. "You're charming me with the way that you fail / charming me with a wave of your good arm / charming me with a gap-toothed smile," goes the sweeping refrain. It's a celebration of also-rans set to an unstoppable hook, its arena rock heft interestingly (and sort of humorously) at odds with the subject matter. Think of it as "We Aren't the Champions" and you're halfway there.

King of Missouri was released in Europe last year, but is enhanced in its stateside edition with one additional track, the slow-chugging, melancholy "Motor". Here, Salomon is credited with something called "Beautiful Blur" -- technically background vocals, but also a metaphor for the entire album. Barbeau has written 13 eccentrically powerful songs; Salomon put his trademark fuzzy glory into them. It's a beautiful combination that helps earn King of Missouri a place on the "do not miss" list.


by Laurel Schamp

Good love stories are hard to come by these days, but the musical marriage of singer/songwriter Anton Barbeau and The Bevis Frond has "happily ever after" written all over it. Their recent release, King of Missouri, shows that they've got the most essential ingredient for a successful relationship: balance. Though Barbeau, an experienced pop artist, naturally takes the lead with his expressive vocals, half the album's power comes from the subtle precision of the band. In both "The Clothes I Want to Wear" and "Sylvia Something," they lie low during the opening vocals and hit it full force at just the right moment. Their steady energy through "King of Missouri" and the satisfyingly vindictive "I Don't Like You" both strengthens and complements Barbeau's melodic pop creations.

Barbeau's lyrical style is varied, capturing both the poignant and ironic moments in life. He delivers the humorous "It's OK, Maybe" with surprising honesty and intensity, taking full advantage of the band's ability to back a vocal buildup. In "Sweet Creature, What's Your Name?" Barbeau offers a compelling narrativeÑit might almost be tender were it not for the power of music. Anton Barbeau and The Bevis Frond is without question a powerful combination, and their offspring, King of Missouri, brings out the best in both of them.


by Mitch LeMay

Released 2003 in the UK on Nick Saloman's Woronzow imprint, this 2005 Canadian version features a wholly different design, remastering, & lyric + liner note overhaul. Sacramento's Barbeau is a force of nature, equal parts brilliant lyricist/superb showman/eccentric original/irreverent pop genius/unique melodicist/grand traditionalist/compelling stylist of contemporary power pop. A frequent Scott Miller collaborator, Barbeau here pairs with freak beat specialists Bevis Frond in a batch of recordings rendered to tape in Bromley, UK; earlier demo versions can be found on Will Ant For Frond (2002). Hook-filled amidst crystalline guitar play (Saloman on lead), solid rhythm of bass (Adrian Shaw), drums (Andy Ward) & the perfectly poised/romantically bruised vocal hues of Anton straight up, as Exhibit A in sonic enthusiasm. Tough, telling and a listening joy.


by Jeffrey Morgan

Had Elvis Costello actually been a '70s punk rocker, he just might've recorded this loose and vibrant affair that's part wordy Dylan and part nasally Lennon.


by Ian Munroe

A self-described psychedelic power-pop rocker, Barbeau's music has a lot of different musical elements to offer. Although he opted for a Yankee-influenced title, musically King of Missouri has a bit of a Britpop-ish feel that reflects a decision to record in England with London-based psychedelics The Bevis Frond. When, for instance, Barbeau puts his impressive vocal range on display, he sounds kinda like Suede's Brett Anderson circa 1994. Yet cutting through the bouncy, fuzzy rhythm guitar and the long, twisted solos are the simple and self-centred lyrics make K.o.M. a bit folksy... [T]here are Beatles inspired flashes of melody and arrangement that suggest Barbeau has the depth to produce some more sophisticated stuff without losing the somewhat endearing outlandishness that characterizes his songwriting.


by Darryl Sterdan

A few years ago, California power-pop singer-guitarist Anton Barbeau met British psychedelic guru Nick Saloman and his band Bevis Frond in Sacramento. A while later, they met again in a London studio to record this idiosyncratic marvel of a disc, which first came out in 2003 on the Frond's own label. On these dozen cuts, Barbeau's congested yelp, chunky power-pop guitars and accomplished tunesmithery meet the Frond's restlessly creative freakiness -- but the result sounds more like mid-'70s Bowie meets Robyn Hitchcock and The Soft Boys meets Matthew Sweet meets Andy Partridge and XTC meets Bob Dylan meets Elvis Costello meets John Lennon meets Alex Chilton and Big Star. Let's just call it a meeting of the minds and be done.


by Alan Downes

Intrigued by LOGO's recent description of him as "competely hatstand," not a phrase in common currency in his hometown of Sacramento, Anton Barbeau got in touch and was not at all put out to learn that we were implying that he was slightly mad, instead sending us a copy of last year's King Of Missouri for further enlightenment. It soon becomes clear that Barbeau isn't at all mad, he just operates on a different plain from the rest of us. Backed here by The Bevis Frond's Nick Saloman and Ade Shaw, King sounds like psychedelic power-pop created by sleep-deprived shamen, Barbeau's cracking (in both senses of the word) voice rasping over Saloman's crystalline guitars like a blessed alliance between The Soft Boys, Cake and XTC, all of whom hold Barbeau in high esteem. Despite the easy tag, Barbeau peddles neither pop nor psychedelia, it's power that's the important word. Though they're completely unrelated references, think of Julian Cope's sprawling Krautrock and Zappa's ironic everything as touchstones for how outsider music can get inside you and change the way you think, feel and hear. Barbeau deserves a place alongside them.


by Nick Bensen

I like Sacramento, CA singer/songwriter Anton Barbeau on disc, and his self-effacing manic live show is a lot of fun. If you read Free City at all, you are probably aware that I think The Bevis Frond knows a thing or two about what to do in studios and on stages. When I first heard that Anton and The Bevis Frond were doing a CD together, I wasn't sure what to expect though. Anton's previous catalog ranges from Donovan/Dylan folk to straight-ahead roots rock/pop to noisy indie rock that sounds kind of like Buddy Holly fronting Hüsker Dü. It was a bit difficult to imagine where The Bevis Frond's big psychedelic sound would fit into Anton's equation. Fortunately, as soon as the CD starts, it's clear that these musicians are a natural match.

The core Bevis Frond studio line up (Nick Saloman - guitar, Adrian Shaw - bass and Andy Ward - drums) knows just when to blend in to Anton's songs and when to step out front. The album kicks off with the frenetic title track and the even more happily frantic "Sweet Creature, What's Your Name?". Anton states his musical personality right away on these tracks that highlight his emphatic, reedy yet smooth voice. As on Anton's other releases, the unselfconsciously funny lyrics stand out. Melodic potential singles like "Octagon" and "It's Okay, Maybe" take the middle ground and combine the unmistakable Bevis Frond sound with songs that are definitely Anton's creations. The quiet to loud dynamics of "The Clothes I Want To Wear" are especially good because the band comes in with such precise bombast. The rollicking waltz "I'm Always Offending My Sensitive Friends" has a dashing early Bowie quality. Heavier tracks such as "Cheque's In The Mail" and the Beatles-influenced "Retabulation" give the band some room to really get things going. The enigmatic epic "Sylvia Something" may be the most interesting track here, consisting of several vocal sections and an inspired guitar solo.

King Of Missouri shows that Anton Barbeau and The Bevis Frond have a lot of common musical ground. Their shared ability to write meaningful, clever lyrics but to also seriously rock provides a sense of kinship to this project. The results reflect very well on all involved.


by Renaud Rigart

Anton Barbeau is a musician / songwriter I didn't know before receiving his brand new and seventh studio album from UK based label Woronzow Records. So Anton is not exactly a newcomer and the growing and solid reputation he is getting in the area of his hometown of Sacramento is the proof that all the efforts he made in the past have not been in vain, to a such point that he has received few awards over the last few years rewarding his talents of musician and songwriter. So It would seem that his music has convinced enough people of its quality and in particular the guys of The Bevis Frond whom have offered him to record in England his upcoming album with them as backing band. And as a such opportunity can't be turned down Anton went to Europe last year to work on a dozen of songs which have previously been released in late 2002 on a very very limited CD regrouping 20 of his compositions.

Nick Saloman (guitars, keyboards), Adrian Shaw (bass) and Andy Ward (drums) haven't meddled in the songwriting only emphazising, owing to their differents playings and feelings, the intrinsic values of Anton's songs. The rhythmical section which performs wonders in the Bevis Frond is once again very precise as much as discreet even during the most ornery numbers ("I don't like you", "Sweet creature, what's your name"). It is just leafing through few tracks that the listener discovers some groovier lines ("Cheque's in the mail") where the swinging aspect of the rockiest songs is always present but in a such way that the intimist side of the ambiences finally prevails over it. The harmonies full of hope, melancholy or even shyness are the witnesses of the arrival at a certain form of maturity ("Sylvia something", "The clothes I want to wear", " I remember everything", "I'm always offending my sensitive friends") among which the folk / country vibe of "It's okay, maybe" is just another proof of Anton's desire to mix the genres.

Besides, Anton modulates his voice for the best all through the aforementioned cuts, being faithfull to all the emotions the songs can no longer contain. Wrapped up in a pop/rock envelope, which is gradually expanding absorbing incidentally a growing number of influences, one can relish Anton's music as a tasty blend of sugary pop flavours, folk essence and rock'n'roll hooks which put his personality forward which beyond its most obvious aspects turns out to be far more fragile. "King of Missouri" is a record mixing cheerfully all what life can keep as joys and disillusions, where the most insignificant moments prove to be of the highest importance in our personal unfoldings and that's what Anton set to music. Harsh, sensitive, lively on some occasions this album is finally deeply human.


(This review was translated from the Italian original.)

The latest talent discovered by the Bevis Frond in their transatlantic campaigns comes from California (Sacramento) claiming the unlikely title of King of Missouri (should it read "king of misery"?). Nick Saloman, Adrian Shaw and Andy Ward humbly perform as his backing band to enhance his brilliant power-pop compositions, offered with such irony and sense of understatement as to make of him an ideal follower of Robyn Hitchcock and Scott Miller (that of Game Theory and Loud Family). "The Clothes I Want to Wear" and "Sylvia Something" (with an excellent guitar embroidering by Nick) are the most interesting samples of a writing that betrays, in its more lyrical moments, a few Harrisonian inflections ("Retabulation"...), without disdaining some explosions of dazzling and delightful rock'n'roll ("I Don't Like You"): a well scouted talent.


by Anders Finslo
(This review was translated from the Norwegian original by Espen Hovelsen.)

Anton Barbeau sings about being himself, about wearing the clothes he wants to wear, and about smoking his joints without someone preaching morals to him. It is as down to earth as it could get, but Anton Barbeau has some unique abilities to make art out of a worn-out formula.

During the past ten years he has released six albums, which have been spread across the world via underground corridors. He could just as well be a star on "the right side" of the earth, but in Barbeau's world it is not a current interest becoming mainstream material. That is because the foundation of his expression lies in the extreme honesty and almost embarrassing way of delivering his soul to his audience.

He is actually dangerously close to the hit recipe. The four easygoing accords are there, as well as the radio-friendly melody. The opener "King of Missouri" is breathing just as freshly as the title track from Elvis Costello's King of America (1986). There's a notable resemblance between both the construction of the melody and Barbeau's voice, and that of the more famous Costello. But where the last-mentioned phrases elegant over perfumed formulations, Barbeau chooses to cut through with unveiled everyday rhymes. In that way he places himself far from broad and commercial mainstream, and hails towards the special interested part of the audience. It's not enough to just enjoy the melody; you must also be charmed by Barbeau's way of being, to receive a maximum listening enjoyment.

As an old grunge-fantast I really like the somehow pitiable loser-image of Anton Barbeau -- the bitter hooded snake, who got pimples before everyone else in class, while the pubic hairs probably didn't pop up until high school (or something like that). And now he's out to get his revenge, or at least point his middle finger towards everyone who didn't have faith in him.

Right now I think King of Missouri is a charming alternative record. But the first couple of times I started writing on this review, I introduced him as music's answer to "Revenge of The Nerds." That was not solely meant positively, even though the movies have one or two good points.

After about one month with King of Missouri on my stereo, though, it has finally started to reach me -- either with the Dylanish "It's Okey, Maybe," the before mentioned Costello-copy, or in reflections of The Beatles, XTC, Robin Hitchcock and Swedish powerpoppers Wannadies (for example in "I Don't Like You"). If you enjoy these artists, and you have the time to work a bit for your listening pleasure, you may risk being very attached to this album.


by Jonas Elgemark
(This review was translated from the Swedish original by Sue T.)

When the Bevis Frond played in Sacramento a while back, Anton Barbeau and his band opened for them. It clicked, and the result was an album on Woronzow with the Bevis Frond as backing band. This is Anton's first album to be released in Europe; his previous albums can, with some difficulty, be gotten hold of in import CD shops. This is an electric singer/ songwriter album full of really good tunes, something which is fairly unusual in a genre where the average number of good songs on an album is usually around four. Anton has a knack for contagious melodies and there are a few tunes you'll be humming for a good while to come. It's hard to pick favorites but "It's Okay Maybe" and "I'm Always Offending My Sensitive Friends" are both inspired pop hits. The Bevis Frond, in the form of Nick Saloman, Adrian Shaw and Andy Ward, seem to be expressing something along the lines of: "We're here, but don't pay attention to us, listen to Anton instead." In other words, they hold back a bit even if they're really rocking sometimes and swinging pleasantly the whole time. Very consistent but also excellent.


by Andrew Carver

Anton Barbeau has been producing ace powerpop influenced by early 1980s artists like Robyn Hitchcock and Julian Cope, and shows no sign of surrendering his knack with the sixth album of his own material (not counting his two Antology compilations of odds'n'ends).

Although Barbeau is the star of the show, fans of the Bevis Frond will want to pick this CD up as well, since in addition to releasing it on their Woronzow label, Nick Saloman, Ade Shaw and Andy Ward provide the musical backing. Their work on "Octagon," in particular, is very Bevisite -- although that may be because the song has the same melancholic feel as much of Saloman's best work.

Even those unfamiliar with the members' collective or individual work will, however, have to agree they're an ideal combination of skill and sympathy. Barbeau's raspy warble swerves from solidly melodic to slightly strangled on the title track; breathy and coy on "Sweet Creature, What's Your Name?"; and panicky and fey on "The Clothes I Want To Wear."

A wry lyricist, Barbeau has a good line in domestic affairs and day-to-day living, as in "I Remember Everything" and "It's Okay, Maybe" and the relationship-ender "I'm Always Offending My Sensitive Friends."

A stellar display of psychedelic power-pop.


by Santtu

Yet another great release from Woronzow Records!... The Bevis Frond backs [Anton] on this CD, and I just can't think of anyone else more fitting for the role. The album subsequently sounds a lot like the Frond, especially the fast, rocking numbers like the title track and "Sweet Creature, What's Your Name." If it wasn't for Anton's rather unique and personal voice, some of the tracks could be mistaken as new Frond material. But I suppose that's mostly because of the characteristic playing by misters Adrian Shaw on bass, Nick Saloman on many guitars, keyboards and Andy Ward on drums. Anton does all the singing and plays also some guitars. There are some Dylan-esque tracks like "The Clothes I Want to Wear," "I Remember Everything," and "It's Okay, Maybe" with its country rock feel. I prefer the faster, heavier tracks, and also the beautiful, poppy "Octagon," that makes the shivers go through your spine. The rather slow, bluesy "Cheque's in The Mail" with funny lyrics and nice organs is also great. "Sylvia Something" is one of the highlights with acoustic parts, chorus that reminds me of The Green Pajamas, and a wild, progressive middle part with some psychedelic effects. The slow and sad "Retabulation," featuring excellent guitar solos and piano, is a nice ending to the CD. On the basis of King of Missouri I can say that Anton Barbeau is a very talented guy, and really deserves to be heard.


by George Parsons

Anton makes music out of his own personal England, he's a Sacramento guy, but he has always favored a '60s infused Brit pop sound. It seems only natural that he found kindred spirits in UK band Bevis Frond (Nick Saloman, Adrian Shaw, and Andy Ward), who are Anton's backup band here. They met when Nick and the lads toured through Sacramento a couple years ago, and later Anton flew to Bromley, UK to record this mild mannered masterpiece as his lucky seventh album. The closest comparison might be Robyn Hitchcock; since both have a slightly surreal world view, and both have a fetishistic appreciation of psychedelic pop. This is the ideal place to begin your exploration of the work of this prolifically eccentric, relatively young pop master, because it's such a solid set of songs and the Frond really sound fantastic as his backing band. Congratulations Anton, this is a great one.


by Christian Kiefer

May well be a masterpiece... It truly does seem a collaboration of genius. As the songs roll I am reminded one moment of Crazy Horse, the next of the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. It is at times very controlled, at times schizophrenic, and always incredible. "Retabulation" reminds of David Bowie. "It's OK, Maybe" of a Ringo-sung Beatles track circa 1965. Through it all one thing is clear: Anton Barbeau has crafted a beautiful, moving album.


(this review also appeared in FAKEJAZZ.COM)
by Jeff Penczak

...The opening (title) track and "Octagon" are fun, power pop rockers, with the latter's toe-tapping, hard-driving, memorable riff sounding exactly like Woronzow stablemate Mick Crossly and his Flyte Reaction. "It's OK, Maybe" is one of those sweet little ditties that John Lennon and Nick Lowe used to toss off in their sleep and once you've heard it, it's stuck in your head for days; marvelous, and the obvious choice for the lead single.

The more elaborately arranged tracks like "The Clothes I Want To Wear," "I Remember Everything," and, particularly "I'm Always Offending My Sensitive Friends" are a little more difficult to wrap your arms around as Barbeau's crackling voice struggles to emote in the upper registers. But that's a minor quibble. After all, it's the rockers you'll return to again and again, including the power pop party anthem, "I Don't Like You" and the otherwise relatively sedate "Sylvia Something" and "Retabulation," which both benefit from Saloman's trademark ripping guitar solos. These alone are worth the price of admission and a must for Frond completists, although Barbeau can hold his own with his enjoyable sense of melody and raspy voice custom-made for the pop overtones. I'd also recommend this to fans of the poppier side of the Woronzow stable, such as Alchemysts, Lucky Bishops and Flyte Reaction.


by Jeffrey Norman

This is a well-matched pairing of cult favorites Anton Barbeau and The Bevis Frond that parcels out each act's best tendencies while cancelling out their worst. Both have demonstrated a strong regard for traditional post-sixties songwriting, both have an interest in psychedelia, but while Bevis Frond albums sometimes succumb to main Frond Nick Saloman's worst instincts, such as twenty-minute guitar blowouts ("Tangerine Infringement Beak" anyone?), and while Barbeau tends to be overprolific in releasing and reworking seemingly every musical idea to strike his curly-haired head (this album features yet another version of "Octagon"), the two artists together seem to have focused their strengths and produced tight, powerful renditions of a batch of new Anton songs...

What might be unexpected, at least from Barbeau's fans, is how hard most of these tracks rock. Stripping away his usual instrumental eccentricities (weird synths, unusual guitar textures) and working with a basic four-piece rock band, Barbeau and pedigreed Frondmen Ade Shaw (bass, ex-Hawkwind) and Andy Ward (drums, ex-Camel) absolutely pummel these tracks, with Saloman adding fiery but focused guitar commentary and concise solos. The title track kicks off the CD and serves notice that on this record, Barbeau's not interested in navel-gazing or closely read sonics but in making a fine and loud noise. "Sweet Creature, What's Your Name?" is another in a series of horny Anton songs, in which our hero, squirreling away at the top of his vocal range, attempts to woo the object of his desire by behaving with absurd enthusiasm... on record, at least, it works. Some later moments slow down a bit, notably the waltz-time "I'm Always Offending My Sensitive Friends" and the multi-part "Sylvia Something," but most of the CD is a revelation, showing how well Barbeau works as a pretty much straight-ahead rocker. The Bevis Frond cult is currently a bit larger than the Barbeau cult: here's hoping King of Missouri broadens both audiences.


by Michael Toland

Sacramento's Anton Barbeau has put out a series of wonderfully eccentric pop records since the early 90s, endearing himself to an ever-growing cult of power pop fans and gaining the respect of peers like the Loud Family's Scott Miller. Another semi-famous friend is Nick Saloman of the Bevis Frond, who offered not only his label and production skills but also his band for Barbeau's use in creating his latest album King of Missouri. The result is the singer/songwriter's most winning record so far. Shorn of the more whimsical experiments that typically populate Barbeau's records, King of Missouri is simply a collection of loud pop songs, smartly written and expertly performed. Barbeau's forte is the marriage of bizarre, seemingly too-clever-for-their-own-good lyrics with immediately appealing pop hooks, and in the case of this record, the nuptials must have been ecstatic. The singalong melodies and the sweetly satisfying crunch of his and Saloman's guitars immediately draw you in, while repeated listens (and there will be repetition) allows the lyrics to sink in. Like Robyn Hitchcock, Barbeau uses odd imagery and subject matter to express emotions we all feel; tunes like "I'm Always Offending My Sensitive Friends," "The Clothes I Want to Wear" and "Sweet Creature, What's Your Name?" may seem like exercises in wordplay, but the heart behind the cleverness beats strongly. When he sings "Sylvia something/Between us" in "Sylvia Something," the feeling is left undefined, but it doesn't need to be. When he blurts out "I'm still in love with you" during the hard rocker "Cheque's in the Mail," it shows the pain behind the sarcastic façade. This record also includes a brilliant re-recording of "Octagon," perhaps the most winsome item in his catalog. Often supported by typically magnificent Saloman guitar solos, Barbeau sounds just great, his perfect power pop voice finding just the right balance between eyebrow-raising and heartbreak. Admittedly, at first it doesn't seem quite like a Barbeau record without the audio effluvia he usually sprinkles in as interludes, but the quality of the material overrides such carping. King of Missouri is a constant delight.

For fans of: Robyn Hitchcock, the Loud Family, Brendan Benson


MOFO (Brazil)
(This review was automatically translated from the Portuguese original.)

King Of Missouri is the result of the meeting of two legends of music pop. Of a side Anton Barbeau he is cultuado to singer/songwriter of the festejada Californian scene powerpop with 8 launched records already. Its records if notabilizam for its melodies extremely worked in a context of simplicity and originalidade, its letters, highly personal well and many surreais times send the situations, flashes of daily and the some critical and autocríticas times unusual the mordacious ones.

Of another side the Bevis Frond is one of my favourite groups, since that I knew them when I was for the first time for London in years 90. The Bevis Frond is, in the truth, Nick Saloman, guitarist extraordinaire, prolific composer (until excessively), multiinstrumentista, owner of recorder, writer and best publisher of one of revistas/zines of psicodelia/powerpop of the planet, the Ptolomaic Terrascope (info in

The Bevis Frond has a fantastic career. The group already launched 20 more than albuns, countless singles, countless participation and contributions in records of other artists. I have attemped to collect everything, but this is an almost impossible task. Nevermind. What it is really important to say is that the Bevis, although to be almost national heroes in its native England he is practically unknown in other countries, what it is a penalty, because its music is vital, energy and inventiveness. E was also one of catalysts of the revival of psicodélica music in years 80 when of the launching of its album of estréia, Miasma in 1987. It remembers, at moments, the best one of Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe & The Fish, and of best acid rock of the San Francisco of 1967.

King Of Missouri was the result of the desire of Anton of being able to touch together with the great musicians of the Bevis (they alem of Nick, Andy Ward, battery and Adrian Shaw, low). Approach of the Bevis in the accompaniment of Anton was the focus in the songs and not in the typical noise of the group in its proper records. The characteristic ground of guitar of Nick Saloman are contained and inserted in the context of the songs of Anton Barbeau.

Amongst the prominences of the record they are the mordacious "I Like You," on a besieger of celebrities (it would be the proper Anton), "Retabulation," one of the bands more psych-pop of the record, perhaps the only moment where Nick leaves to flow one of its etéreos ground and "Sylvia Something," a song extremely elaborated, with diverse different parts, reflecting the state of spirit of the author, alternating calmness and desperation at different moments.

Another song of the record, "Octagon," already had been launched, in different version, a coletânea of powerpop, Yellow Pills vol. 4, by the way a series that I recommend very to the interested parties in current powerpop. This launching of the bonanza stamp Bongo Beat in the truth is a relaunching.

The record originally was launched in 2002 for the stamp of the Bevis Frond, the Woronzow, but it is now leaving in Canada and the USA with new layer, adding the commentaries of the staff of the Bevis and with the addition of an excellent band bond, "Engine".

I only can conclude that King Of Missouri is a triumph for the Bevis Frond, that has the chance to mainly show one another face of its work and for Anton Barbeau that a band of highest naipe has to follow it in this shining series of songs. Certainly still we will hear to speak very of Anton Barbeau in the future!


AAM MAGAZINE (Florence, Italy)
(This review was translated from the Italian original.)

Strange story of Anton Barbeau. The country he comes from, the United States, made him a perfect electric singer. His songs -- simple, direct, emotional -- follow perfectly in the style of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, in short, the bible of American rock. Nonetheless, his diverse albums which have only been released in the States limited his capacity, and as a result, the breadth of his notoriety. All this comes to an end when the Bevis Frond embark on their US tour and end up enraptured live on stage with Anton, their support act. And thus is born the collaboration that brings us the release, on Woronzow, of King of Missouri, the artist's first European record.

So consider the instrumental participation of the Bevis Frond: Nick Saloman, guitars, Adrian Shaw on bass and Andy Ward on drums. It's just this heterogeneous composition that render these eleven tracks so magical, and at the same time, straight-forward. This typical music tradition comes out of a mixture of rock and psychedelica: take for example Julian Cope and Robyn Hitchcock. Each polished, little gem-like line like in "The Clothes I Want to Wear" and "Cheque's in the Mail" exalts the brilliance and calm of an artist of total clarity, like Barbeau. Even in the more roguish and markedly Beatlesque moments (just take for example "I Don't Like You" and It's Okay, Maybe," which bring to mind the chords of Supergrass) a crystalline class of melody emerges -- active and delicate -- even when the soft tones dwindle away to reveal the splendid, bittersweet ballad "I Remember Everything." The whole thing is perfect, including the finale: the conclusive "Retabulation," which is, in fact, the symbol of an album that is introspective, collaborative and highly charged, as made evident by the ultra-psychedelic wah-wah solo of Sir Saloman...

If you're looking for a break in the obsessive everyday, for a moment to stop and reflect, to search out a music at once sweet, dignified and full of pathos, well, King of Missouri is the record you have to have.