Michigan Crop Circles
I often sit and wonder, gazing towards my trusty Pig Player through the mounds of freshly-unpackaged indie releases, how true blue gems such as Steve Kilpatrick and his Westside Crop Circles can ever possibly go all but unnoticed in this world. Especially in our era of far-too-reaching mediocrity (not to mention media-ocracy) when all in earshot, within and without what’s left of the music biz, are practically screaming for something new and wholly noteworthy.
Just like this. Har-rumph!
Well, let us concern ourselves here and now then on the monumental matter at hand: That which is this stunningly understated half-hour-and-a-bit by Lansing’s own Mr. Kilpatrick which, in a fairer, saner time and space, would win each and every Country Music Award in the land for a song such as “Me and Oprah, My Pajamas and The Pain” alone, dammit.
Not exactly home-recorded, but intricately, incisively home-brewed by the sounds of its fully-dimensional audio sheen overall, Westside Crop Circles seems and, yes, sounds as if it were tempered in some subterranean wood-paneled netherworld during hours stolen off the night shift. Nevertheless, the vocals soar and race – those wholly Brill-built beds of back-up especially – while the guitars weave in wanton wonder throughout (imagine, if you dare, some bizarro-worldly Mark Knopfler …only with bite, passion and personality to boot).
But then there’s the songs! My Gawd, the SONGS. A bountiful baker’s dozen-worth that range ‘n’ rage between the subdued (“Worried Mind” lazily conjures the likes of Bill Lloyd and even dear Rick Nelson) to the salacious (“Brothers-In-Law” dumps a couch-surfin’ Chris Isaak square in the midst of some Tupelo domestic squabble, while “Conjugal Visit” rockabillies its ornery way straight up to the Great Wide Northlands of Mendelson Joe and, dare I say it, the lately lamented Zalman Yanovsky …while somewhere in the frigid distance Garth Hudson’s Canadian eighty-eights trinkle the night away). Much further and safely southward though, “Old-People Hours” shuffles by in a dusty Harry Nilsson way, while “Rough and Tough” could send the one, the lonely Elvis Aaron Presley Hisself boppin’ cross that crazy big Jungle Room in the Sky I do believe. One can only hope Lisa Marie at least has this number firmly imbedded inside her nearest iPod.
And have I told you all about “Bruno” yet? He sounds – and sarin raps – just like some gosh-forsaken cast-aside from Johnny Dowd’s wrong side of Memphis, while directly next door “BigPlan” unfolds into some severely alt. country sequel to Brian Wilson’s “Caroline, No” with its deceptively harmonious ode to loves and labors forever lost. Meanwhile, “Adjustments” create precisely the sort of delicate musical mischief those Pauls Simon and McCartney would once toss effortlessly off with the flick of a C-sharp-minor. Before both moved too permanently uptown in order to think too much, that is.
But that’s not all! “Multi-Generational” pits Raymond Douglas Davies’ dreaded People in Grey in a guitar duet-to-the-death with Dave Rave’s “Welcome to the Next Generation” and all of its dirty little animals, whilst elsewhere within this particular socio-musical kinkdom “Me and the Bank” ties Steve to that dreaded Money-Go-Round as he finally realizes perhaps ALL of what’s left of our lives hang, most harrowingly, upon the financial balance.
I’m most happy to report, however, that all Crops come full circle, just in time with the lazily Lennonian Bermuda retreat of “The Lonely Tonight.” Wherein our hero meets that redoubtable Big Mary Lou during his very own triple fantasy, bringing the journey to a not totally comfortable, but quite possibly inconclusive end. For now.
And that is it. The kind of album steeped in, as Steve would himself say, those “under-documented universals” which one would once find filling each and every discriminating top shelf back in the daze; yes, back when the music was made to be heard, and savored, and then passed conspiratorially onwards like a note at the back of math class to your nearest and trusted friend.
But seeing as we’re now awash here in century 21 instead, all I can suggest is that you bypass those once-normal channels and head straight instead to www.steve-kilpatrick.com in order to help yourself at last to a heapin’ helpin’ of what it was once, but still can be I tell you, all about.
No, don’t just take my words for it. Uncover some Crop Circles for your very selves right now. And tell Steve – not to mention Bruno – that I sentcha, absolutely.
Editor's note: We reviewed this CD is November of 2001. To read the EAR CANDY review Click here