Cassette Review //
"Is This Really Happening?"
(Fuzzy Warbles Cassettes)


$6 //

Right away I like the name OOF because it's such a small word that can mean so many different things yet is often times the perfect response.  I feel like that idea is reflected in the music as well: it can feel like a simple concept of rock or punk on the surface but underneath it you can pull many influences out depending upon your own influences and there is just a lot to hear within these songs if you listen closely.

Every time I listen to "Is This Really Happening?" I come back to note that it has elements of ska in it, but then by the time I'm done listening to the cassette I think "Is that really the best genre reference to make?"  So I felt it needed to be noted.  I also hear some of the Blue Meanies in here, which adds to that kind of ska but kind of not sound.   There are vocals by at least two different people and at times they can remind me of Tom Waits, which is never a bad thing.   Other musical influences I hear can include The Slits and X-Ray Spex, as this can just sound like a band you would have seen perform at CBGB's.

With a saxophone coming out during these songs it just puts a new twist on what you generally might tend to think of as being this weird/experimental brand of punk rock.   Within that though are a lot of lyrics which really might seem less significant on the surface (and you can sing along at times as well) but I hope in your listening you eventually begin to take these words to mean something more.  On the song "Take A Walk In The Graveyard", for example, it is suggested that we do this "when we miss our friends", which can just open up a discussion as to why so many people are dying so young.

Side A ends with a song called "Too Many Emails" and I don't think anyone has ever thought they don't get enough emails.  Some time last year, the USPS was under fire where they wanted to defund it or something and so this viral campaign was going around to "Text this to this number to help save the USPS!", which I did because I love the mail and then I got constant email updates from my senator or whoever.  I ended up unsubscribing from his email list and blocking his address because it just became too much.   

It also just reminds me of when holidays come around and companies will say "Hey, remember when you bought something from us five years ago?  Well, guess what! We're having a sale now in honor of Take Your Dog To Work Day!"  It's a down side to buying online, but then I go into stores like Big Lots and every time they ask me if I'm a rewards member and I say no and I don't want to sign up.  You know what happens if I sign up?  Tons of unwanted emails.  I just wish we could create a system where you can add people to your contacts and so it's cool for them to send you emails, but if it's someone you don't approve they have to pay to email you.  And then some of that money goes to the recipient.  

Aside from all that, the flip side opens with a song called "Country Song" which is about thinking it's easy to do things which are not really that easy.   One of them is writing a country song, but another one is throwing a perfect pitch and so I like that because it's about baseball.  There is a line in here I like that goes: "It's hard to be this bad / Imagine being good", which I think reflects the notion that people take things like punk rock for granted.  You can't just go up and play a guitar without any knowledge of how to play and become the Ramones or even Frank Zappa.

Perhaps my favorite line on this cassette though is from "Country Song" as well and it says: "Everybody eats / Not that many cook".    This is something which I think a lot about and maybe I even think about it too much.  As someone who writes about music, is it fair for me to critique something that I can't do?  People will say "Oh yeah, well if you think it's so bad I'd like to see you do better".   But then at the same time, music is made for listening to by everyone and not just musicians so if you're presenting art to be enjoyed by not just artists then you shouldn't have to be an artist to decide whether it's good or not but the whole thing is just a debate that I still struggle with internally.

"Is This Really Happening?" is a question we never really answer and that's okay.  This all might just be a dream.   But I like this cassette by OOF because as much as you can just listen to it because it has an energy about it and can be played loudly, there is also a deeper layer when you can get quite philosophical.  And how much you want to take from these songs is really up to you, as the listener.    Having that option though, being able to write essays about some of these lyrics, just makes this a special and essential cassette.  


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