Review ·

commercial music industry serves up plenty of pretty-boy James Dean
types who make big splashes as they hurtle themselves toward an early
end, but where these poster boys fail is in taking up the cause of
their rebellious young listeners and then speaking directly to them.
That's left to "underground" music, and that's why Brendan Fowler,
a.k.a. BARR ("B is for political, A is for drums, R is for music and R
is for right now"), picks up a microphone in front of punk kids,
skaters, arty gallery-goers and whoever else is listening and gives
them a good talking-to. But not in the parental way, and not, he'll
insist, in the underground-hip-hop way. Sure, the latter of these
classifications seems logical: Fowler has described his music as
"fairly aggressive talking over drums" and he was the deejay in New
York's uber-chic Lower East Side hip-hop outfit Dogg and Pony before he
moved to Los Angeles a few years ago. But the way he sees it, free jazz
is where it's at.



this ain't your late-night public-radio free jazz. This is verbal
information shared over complex time signatures. Confident enough in
his creative endeavors to be fully punk rock and free jazz at the same
time, Beyond Reinforced Jewel Case (his first LP on
5RC) being called "the self-actualization album of the year" is less a
quirky promotional line than the gosh-darn truth. One who always knows
what's next in creativity, as evidenced by his past role at New York's
Alleged Gallery and current role as one of the influential triumvirate
who launched ANP Quarterly magazine this year, Fowler
already has a captive audience. But his goal, as expressed in his
lyrics, is to speak to suburban kids and those iconoclasts outside the
safe haven of cityscapes. They're young and weird and Fowler wants to
inform them of their destiny as creative types. Opener "A Cover"
provides some basic instructions: "How do you start something? You
start it." And from there it's all hectic delivery of what ails
intellectual youth in the struggle to identify their place in the
homogenized world.


is not to say that those old enough to wear their special artiness on
their sleeves will not find comfort in the music and performance.
Recorded by Stab City Slit Wrists' Greg Casebeer (who also plays on the
album) in Flagstaff, Arizona, Fowler has applied the science of free
jazz and spoken word to the raw expression of punk rock. Like 5RC
labelmate Xiu Xiu, Fowler's is a turbulent story, but the album is
equal parts inspiring with its clear impression of BARR's performance.
Often this conversation between "talker" and listener sounds as if it
has its roots in live shows, particularly on "My List of Demands," when
Fowler arranges to meet a heckler in his audience back at his place so
he can belittle him in his personal space the way he ravaged BARR on
stage. Now that's hardcore, but with a free jazz philosophy.

Artist's Site:


5RC site:


Kill Rock Stars site:    


DoggPony site:


Link to MP3 of Is All for Updated:


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