Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Universe and Me Tobin Sprout Interview & Show # 654


Tobin Sprout is perhaps best known as being part of the classic era line-up of lo-fi indie rock band Guided By Voices, but Sprout has been releasing solo material, along with other side projects since the mid-90s. The Universe and Me is his seventh full-length album. For this album, the songs take on a more aggressive approach, as opposed to 2010’s Bluebirds of Happiness Tried To Land On My Shoulder, which was a more piano driven affair. One of his strongest efforts to date, The Universe and Me features a selection of older material from songs that were recorded at Sprout’s Michigan based studio in the past and newer material recorded for this album. As a whole, the songs on this album feature a contemplation of past worldviews. It is a coming of age of sorts, however, Sprout is 61 years old. The Universe and Me contains a complex youthfulness that is found within each of the songs maturities.

“Future Boy/Man of Tomorrow” opens up the album. It is a fuzzy driven rock track that recalls a Guided By Voices aesthetic, it is however, not the same. Lyrically, the song deals with a youth fascinated by superheroes as he transitions to adulthood. This is contrasted with the song title for a certain nostalgic feeling as the character in the song puts on his adult uniform. The title track is a piano driven song that pulls from a Beatles musical influence. “A Walk Across the Human Bridge” is another upbeat rock song contrasted with “Manifest Street”, which is a slower jangly pop song. The song with lyrics such as ”Something to do was raised and grew/On manifest street/In a treasure chest of dreams you’ve kept” conveys a sense of maturity from looking back on the past.

“When I Was A Boy” is a wistful, heartfelt song that explains that even though the character in the song is older, he still feels the same and takes on the world and turns out the cold, “Cowboy Curtains” displays a loss of innocence, “Heart of Wax” melts with a jangly, almost R.E.M. influence, while “I Fall You Fall” is executed in a Neil Young and Crazy Horse fashion. The last song recorded for this album, it is sung with, as are all of the songs on this album, a youthful exuberance, this song seems to show a father that comforts his child stating “You fall/I Fall/It’s so simple”. It is also, as many songs on The Universe and Me, one that can take on many meanings.

“Tomorrow From Heaven” is a lush pop song, complete with distorted guitars, as “Just One Kid (Takes On The World)” is a more rock and roll affair. With heavily distorted guitars, handclaps and power pop song dynamics, this song also features strong lyrical prowess. The lyrics are pretty straightforward, matching the song’s title, showing someone with nothing to lose. “Future Boy (Reprise)” ends the album. The song picks up where the beginning of the album started off. Where the first song “Future Boy/Man of Tomorrow” reflected a growing youth that is eventually dressed a uniform symbolizing adulthood, the reprise version of this song reflects the man this character became, one that wanted to forget his past, but decided to learn and grow from it.

The songs on this album are short, but well put together. A good song is a good song. There are 14 of them on this album, all of which contain an undeniable youthful energy. The production is sometimes rough around the edges, but it just further proves the point that a song can be great regardless of the production style, if done properly. The songs on The Universe and Me showcase a complex feeling, one draped in the colours of nostalgia, but also one with a new sense of understanding. This is a feeling that permeates all of the tracks that are found on The Universe and Me. It is one that like the album’s front cover provides the listener with a sense of awe and wonderment.

Check out my interview with Tobin Sprout:



The Playlist:

1. The Clash - Police & Thieves
2. The Congos - Sodom & Gomorrow
3. Robyn Hitchcock - I Pray When I'm Drunk
4. Brain James - Why? Why? Why?
5. Feefawfum - No Content
6. Tobin Sprout - The Universe and Me

TOBIN SPROUT INTERVIEW

7. Tobin Sprout - Moonflower Plastic (You're Here)
8. Tobin Sprout - To My Beloved Martha
9. Guided By Voices - Awful Bliss
10. Fig.4 - Behind Her Eyes
11. The Kinetics - Take A Train
12. Ron Gallo - Pleasure Yourself
13. The Jesus & Mary Chain - Always Sad
14. The Evaporators - Welcome To My Castle
15. Lush Buffalo - Jane The Ripper
16. Jay Som - 1 Billion Dogs
17. Middle Sister - The Sea
18. Beams - Black Shadow
19. Elliot Smith - Speed Trials
20. Spoon - First Caress
21. Blessed - Endure
22. Mad Ones - It Never Rains
23. Iggy & The Stooges - I Got A Right (Raw Power Sessions Outtake)


To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 22.

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