Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Christian Weston Chandler - Christian and the Hedgehog Boys

10/10

I used to think that the best evocation of loneliness on record was Pink Floyd's "The Wall." Then, after listening to it many times, I decided there was too much filler in the middle and Bob Ezrin's production was a bit too overblown. Then I thought that the music which felt the loneliest was Sam Cooke's "Night Beat." But while it is a fine record, there are a few upbeat songs which break the mood (although they're not horrible).
Then, I heard the record I'm reviewing right now. "Christian and the Hedgehog Boys" is a masterpiece, providing a panorama of isolation from the world that few artists could ever hope to approach. First of all, it should be noted that the contributions of the "Hedgehog Boys" are practically nonexistent; the more cynical of us might suspect that they don't actually exist. Instead, Chandler sings over generic pop songs (including the Macarena and songs by Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys). What an insightful statement on the vapidity of such music; admitting that these songs are free of emotional content, he adds his own.
And what emotion! Christian chooses to write lyrics from the perspective of a pathetic autistic man. Now, not all autistic people are pathetic, but we're clearly intended to see the narrator that way due to the primitive recording style, and a remarkable concept album results. On the first track, "So Need a Cute Girl," the narrator is "stuck as a virgin with rage" and never wants to hear that a girl has a boyfriend; if he can't have a partner, no one can. "Feel So Lonesome" tells of how he tried to use a sign to attract women, and "La Cocina en La Casa de Casanova" brilliantly uses middle-school Spanish to illustrate just how narrow the narrator's world really is.
Admittedly, this album is more than a little derivative of such post-modern masters as Wesley Willis, Wild Man Fischer and Anton Maiden, but I have no problem giving it the 10. It's a shame that this is Chandler's only full-length recording, although the concept is so great that a follow-up would either be a rehash or pale in comparison.

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