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G28 by The Washington Generals (Review)

I’ve listened to this CD many times, hoping to discover something that would make it all click, but to no avail.

According to the press release, “the genius of the Generals lay in cultivating the melodic and lyrical accidents which repetition renders irretrievable.” In other words, I have a sneaking suspicion that the 10 songs on this album didn’t exist in any form until the band entered the studio and pressed “Record.” I don’t really know what else can account for these 32 minutes of sloppy, clumsy words and noise.

In all fairness, maybe they conceived the album as an experiment of sorts, to see what happens when music happens spontaneously, when a band records after not playing together for several years. Maybe they wanted the album to show songs in their roughest natal form, pure and undiluted by such studio trickery as mixing, proper mic placement, acceptable sound levels, etc.

Unfortunately, that can’t hide the fact that the album is, at its very best, interesting only in a Manos, The Hands of Fate sort of way.

“Count 12” opens the album with a simple bar chord progression that anyone who ever studied Nevermind could pick up in 10 seconds. If the band believes their music to be as unpredictable and irreproducible as they claim, they’ve still got a ways to go. At least Keith Maitland’s lyrics come closer to that goal, if only because they’re barely coherent ramblings off the top of his head. Half of the song seems to consist of that “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12” countdown from Sesame Street (you know, the one accompanied by the trippy pinball and spaceship animations). The rest of the lyrics try to build off of that in a somewhat coherent manner, but a Sesame Street reference doesn’t really give you too much to work with.

Sadly and not too surprisingly, the album doesn’t really improve from that point on. “Back to Sleep” contains even more inane lyrics, such as “My head’s always itchin’ and I’m always scratchin’/I wish I could go back to sleep/I’m thinkin’ ’bout sleepin,’ I never stop thinkin’/I wish I could go back to sleep.” “Fuck Shop” lifts the melody from Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” and turns it into a drunken sprawl, a bar anthem whose only purpose, I think, is to aid drunk coeds in removing their tops. The band’s musical bastardization grows even more intolerable, however, when New Order’s “Blue Monday” is given the same treatment on “Lightning.”

The album ends with “Alone” which finds Maitland bemoaning the fact that (surprise) he’s all alone (despite the fact that the previous song found him going through a laundry list of females). “Alone“ s take on power balladry in the opening moments is bad enough, but it gets worse as the song picks up steam with squawking guitars and crashing drums. One gets the impression of a runaway semi barreling towards a crowded intersection, with the predictable results.

Simply put, it’s impossible for me to take this album seriously. I’ve listened to this CD many times, hoping to discover something I missed, something that would make it all click, but to no avail. In the end, G28 is nothing more than a release that takes its sloppy, underdeveloped rock way too seriously, that tries to elevate the sound of 4 guys banging away in the basement every couple months to something approaching conceptual “lowbrow” art. Then again, maybe it’s all meant to be a joke. But if that’s the case, the delivery is so bad that I’ve stopped caring about the punchline.

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