Monday, May 11, 2020
Cassette Review //
I Know I'm An Alien
"Do You Work Here?
(Crass Lips Records)
Edition of 23 //
We open up with what sounds like kids laughing and the music quickly turns into a carnival ride and I'm quickly taken back to every town fair I've ever been to in my youth. This turns into a song about the customers and one of the lyrics is "They would kill you if they could" and I agree with that. Anyone who has ever worked anywhere that has had customers will immediately appreciate this for the lyrics. Musically, this reminds me of something like The Aquabats or Yo Gabba Gabba.
By the next song we're singing about how the customer is always right (duh) and this makes me think of Atom and His Package for some reason. There is just that weirdo sense of rock music that not many artists keep up with these days but at one point there seemed to be a lot of it. I do imagine this as being like a television series though- or a giant music video perhaps- where it takes place in a retail location.
"Excuse me sir are you free?" Are any of us really free though?
Musically I'm hearing a cross between Blue Meanies and something with machine drum beats and audio samples. It's so much fun really. The customer is my friend now and... I'm not sure that's right. Elements of video games can be found in these songs as well. "Work till you die", which is a lyric in "Slave Planet", doesn't just have to apply to retail as we're all kind of bound to our jobs until we die in some ways. This also makes me think of Daniel Johnston right now.
Cool synthwave vibes in a home recording way now on "Why Is It So Expensive?" "The Customer Enjoys Low Price" ends Side A, and yeah, I mean we'd all enjoy a low price but that's just not how it works unfortunately. I kind of want to go back to retail just so I can say things like "Look, if it was up to me I'd give this to you for free, but you know how my boss is..."
On the flip side we start with a song which sounds like a video game about going shopping. Then the employee begins slowly breaking down, not just in the vocals but the music as well. The lyrics say "Already Dead" and "I talk to zombies for minimum wage". I hear a kazoo now, right? This is such a great anthem for the downtrodden employees of mass retail though.
We're getting dreamy like The Beatles now. "Customer Go Away" indeed. The way this song sounds now- which is telling us only "customers suck"- sounds like it could go into the theme from "Rocko's Modern Life" at any moment, it's that twangy guitar deal. The drums go crazy now with "Do You Work Here?" which is the titular track and it has a great surf rock vibe to it.
True Story: I had to pause this cassette to tell this story about the title of this cassette. Once, I was inside a Target and they used to have all of their trading cards- like Pokemon- near the cash registers. I was over in that specific area with my son and someone asked me "Do you work here?" Now. First, Target employees wear a specific dress code of red tops and khaki bottoms. I was in a band t-shirt and camo cargo shorts. Second, I was with my son. So, yeah, it's kind of funny how customers can be, right?
This song also makes me think of the Vandals- and the whole cassette does on some level- because they have that one song about "How Did This Loser Get This Job" (which has paranthesis in it somewhere but I forget where) "I Don't Wanna Sell My Time" gets pretty jumbled up, sped up and just all around goes crazy to promote the idea behind the song. I have had thoughts about "How much is my time worth" and it's kind of sad when you think about how if you spend 40 hours a week working you spend more time with your co-workers than most anyone else.
"Shopping Cart" is a fun romp and then the titular track comes back but is darker and sounds more like Yo Gabba Gabba at the same time. This is really a wild cassette, but I'd love to work in retail and put it on over the speakers. Back when I was 17 I worked at Sam Goody (RIP) and I had two assistant managers who just did not care and they would have played this in the store.