Huffamoose was a decidedly odd band of cynical bastards who followed no real set formulae and thus kinda represented a melting pot of idiosyncratists like Tin Huey, Col. Bruce Hampton, Pere Ubu, Presidents of the United States, etc. In some ways, I was, upon discovering 'em well after their untimely demise, somewhat reminded of the spirit of an early Mike Kenneally kinda gig on a lazy day after a few sixers in the hot sun. Expectedly, then, the lads had a strange following (the best kind to have but not very indicative of commercial success, I'm afraid) and managed to, despite scoring a #34 place on Billboard charts in '98 for the single Wait, oscillate between The Next Big Thing and the less enviable estate of Will We Ever Goddamn Make It?. In 2004, Cameron Crowe named the documentary Here Comes Huffamoose, a chronicle of the ensemble's rise and fall, as one of the best rock docks of all time. And J.C. Penney not too long ago picked up their Buy You a Ring for advert soundtracking. Pretty friggin' good for a band so few know despite 5 releases, hm?
Well, Craig Elkins was the front dude, and he penned a song, James, that stokes anyone who happens across it. That was, in fact, the track that caught me, inducting my entranced brain into the group's strange realm. Here, listen for yourself:
…but don't expect them to be quite like that all the time. They're actually a fairly anarchic cross between rock, alt, jazz, and distant prog. No matter where you go, though, there's a constant element of melancholy, non-conformity, wistful regret, existential reconciliation of a quietly exasperated sort, and infinite analogies falling short of paradise 'cause that's what Earth does…you know what I'm talking about. So, when you listen to this here new solo CD, I Love You, you take Huffamoose's beating heart and relocate it, revising the postage weight while sending a whispering package to the nearest asylum.
Offin' Myself is the ideal cut to put in the top slot and carries one of my latest favorite recent lines: "I like to make people angry", but when track two, Tell 'Em My Story, wings its way into the speakers, one is quickly reminded not only of another eccentric, Andy Pratt, who came out with a devastating eponymous sophomore LP (that everyone still thinks was his debut) and went nowhere but remains a cult classic (and, um, Pratt not long after that went Christian, ouch!, losing all the talent he'd displayed) but also John Palumbo, who headed Crack the Sky, managing two killer LPs before imitating Adrian Gurvitz, making a dash for Hollwood bucks…to the same dismal result.
This seems like an obituary rather than a CD review doesn't it? Well, it ain't, and I'm happy to report Elkins does nothing but wax in power and artistic strength. I Love You is moody as fuck but seductive as hell in its roots/rock/folk/offbeat way, calling to mind elements of Prine, Hiatt, and Jerry Jeff by way of Ray Davies, Ian Hunter, and a drunk delirious Dylan. Gone are Huffa's outside inclinations, a street-corner sentimentality substituting them with buckets of grime, dust, grit, and sonorous indifferences. This disc will find its way into your CD player more times than expected…in fact, I'm pretty sure it'll be able to do it even without your participation, crawling out of the rack and into the slot on its own 'cause that's how damned off the wall the whole thing is. I mean, even I'm wondering what in blue blazes Elkins was smoking………and if I can get ahold of some.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles