Sunday, November 9, 2008

Staples: Jacob Berendes - Foreign Policy

Jacob Berendes - Parakeet Illnesses

Jacob Berendes - Hello Kitty Guitar

Staples is a feature about, you guessed it, staples in my music diet. Albums that no matter how (im)perfect they are, or how old or new they are, I always come back to them because they're that awesome.

A little known guy from the Providence area (I think) who is quite multitalented. I'm not very knowledgeable about his other talents, though. Only his musical ones. But boy oh boy does this Jacob Berendes guy have some serious chops.

Foreign Policy is one of his few records and you know what? I fucking love it. It's one of those records I put on when I'm in the mood for some seriously peppy music. But not the dancey kind. More like the kind that I want to sing really loud to. Jacob's lyrics are so catchy and light hearted, even if they're about sad things (which is pretty much every other song), that you want to sing every one of them. "H. E. L. L. Ooooo. And I say hello! Hello Kitty never looks away she's always watching you. But it's not creepy, it's kind of nice."

I'd rank Berendes up with the likes of Jeffrey Lewis and The Moldy Peaches. His sense of humor fits right in with theirs and the music is acoustic and super lo-fi. It sounds like when he recorded the album, he took his guitar and put it right next to a 10 cent mic he bought at a garage sale and played as loud as he could. The songs are totally blown out in the red fun.

You know how I do those Catch Of The Week posts every now and then? Well, this entire album gets stuck in my head all the time. The first words, especially. The opening track, "JLA Dreamer" starts out "My name is John Jones. You can call me John Jones. I'm a cop by trade. Oh ohoh." That gets stuck in my head all the time. And one of my favorite song lyrics ever comes from "Parakeet Illnesses." "All of my insecurities get in the way of his birdities." Awesome.

Seriously, I can't get enough of Foreign Policy. I've never bothered looking for other Berendes records but if they're anything like this, it's very possible there's a hidden musical genius living in New England.


Anonymous said...

hello, this is jacob berendes, leaving the only comment. i'm totally vanity searching and i found your glowing review. thanks! there's a fair amount of music to download from me at:
lots of different styles-- the one closest to the foreign policy material is a tape called "crypt of everything". how you like it!

Justin Snow said...

Hey Jacob! Thanks for stopping by. I downloaded some stuff from Fujichia. I'm digging that Cat & Bird Hospital album of MJ covers. Weird stuff. And hilarious. Thanks for the heads up!