Posted tagged ‘jack in the box’

Curtis Plum “Call My Cellphone” – Music Review

February 15, 2010

‘Outsider Art’ is a funny term*. While there exists a tangible ‘mainstream’ and an ‘alternative’ to whatever that mainstream is, outsider art occupies the territory outside of that. While counter-cultures primarily exist from a reactionary need, outsider art tends to thrive in a vacuum, not concerned with their medium’s peers in the slightest. Both vague and to-the-point, it’s a label that gives you an idea of what you’re in for when you still have no idea what to expect. I break this down to frame Curtis Plum in a special light, one brighter than any cell phone.


Have You Heard?

Discovered by Sage Francis and quickly scooped up by his Strange Famous Records imprint, Curtis Plum stands the oddest man in a room full of oddities. While not a traditional rap record by any means, Sage’s investment and vote of confidence in Plum is the ballsiest move a rap label has made in some time. Much like Daniel Johnston on Atlantic or, more accurately, Wesley Willis on Alternative Tentacles, Plum’s spot on the roster seems to exist just because it feels right. What began as an exchange of MySpace messages snowballed into a record deal seemingly based on the principles that 1) Sage likes the music a lot and 2) he thinks it should be heard. Fortunately for us, he’s right.

Call My Cellphone is ten tracks of unhinged uninterrupted Curtis Plum. A genuine eccentric, there’s a sincerity in play that shows the man doesn’t have an ironic bone in his body. From the title track (“Take a photo of you on your phone with my phone / save it on my phone and I press upload / take one of me on my phone with your phone / internet photo of my phone by my dome”) to taking Pitchfork posers to task on “Indie Rocker” (“It was Blink 182 / Now it’s Blink, you’re a jerk”) Plum creates a carnival sideshow out of the absurdities of everyday life. His voice, sounding like the polite lovechild of the B-52’s Fred Schneider and Katherine Hepburn, creates a conversational relationship with the listener that make the entire project seem like some recorded pleasant exchange with a stranger.

But that’s not to write-off Plum’s very real talents. While Plum’s appeal is that he’s a legit loon giving you a half-hour of him in all his Plum-ness, his comedic timing is perfect. On “Get on the Dancefloor” Plum uses the standard dance song’s lyric structure and vocal inflections to explain that, as much as he would like to see you dance, it’s totally your call and he’s cool with whatever you decide. In a lesser man’s hands, it’s a one-note 15 second joke that wears out its welcome the second it’s repeated. Plum’s charisma, however, keeps the listener hanging on his every word. This is even more apparent in his storytelling. “Jack in the Pine Box” chronicles Plum’s golf course confrontation with the restaurant chain Jack-in-the-Box’s mascot, “XBox Trife Life” has Plum as a video game console lamenting his own existence, and the show-stopping “Lil Wayne Tried to Rape Me” has Plum asking ‘have you ever been molested by a tiny hand man? Have you ever been touched by Lil Wayne’s little hands’ and, at the album’s climax, busting out a double-time flow to explain to the Platinum selling rapper that he’s a heterosexual. Folks, this album exists.

The album closes with “Bike Cop Reanimated,” a dead-on style parody of the super-serious epic song-sequels that are prone to clutter the conclusions of rap albums. Plum nails the soundscape and presence of such an undermentioned phenomenon so perfectly that I refuse to believe it’s a coincidence. With early press material insinuating this will be Plum’s only record Call My Cellphone, is destined to become a cult classic. While some may appreciate it on a face-value Dr. Demento level, Plum’s deliberate craftsmanship raises the project far above novelty status making it a welcome addition to any record collection between Philosophy of the World and Trout Mask Replica. This album’s not for everyone, but in a post-Tim and Eric world it’s clear that an audience for this type of project exists. For the people that won’t get it, no explanation will be good enough. But for those that do, no explanation is needed.**

We Give Call My Cellphone a Five Out of Five

Purchase the album here at Strange Famous Records.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*Meaning it’s a goofy term for silly-billies.

**I’ve seen this quote originally attributed to everyone from Jerry Lewis to Jeff Jarrett, so since google is failing me I’m just going to take credit for it, K?