(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CD review - Garfunkel and Oates, All Over Your Face (2011)

Since you're reading this on the interwebs, you should already be familiar with the musical comedy duo of Garfunkel and Oates (Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci). You don't need me to tell you how funny they are; you've already seen their self-produced videos.

If Garfunkel and Oates aren't already on your radar, they should be: sweet voiced harmonies, folk guitar and ukulele, and two women who personify a clever naivete. Of course, their stage personas are the perfect delivery vehicle for their bawdy humor. Their earthy shtick cuts both ways. Plenty of people love them, but it makes them easy to dismiss. Hearing these cute voices say "fuck" or cheerfully refer to oral sex is an amusing gimmick, but the titillating shock value fades fairly quickly.

Garfunkel and Oates are polarizing like Sarah Silverman, because their comedy pushes people's buttons and the boundaries of taste. It's true, the deliberate vulgarity leads to plenty of cheap shot laughs, but there's a fine comedic sense driving them. Even though some may pan Garfunkel and Oates for crassness, the pair pull it off because their material is very funny.

Much of the humor is sex and relationship based, like You, Me, and Steve and Gay Boyfriend. Garfunkel and Oates use the frank simplicity of these songs to mock modern relationships and sex roles while hitting at deeper truths. But they also branch out into larger cultural topics with the guido-bashing This Party Took A Turn For the Douche and the medical marijuana sendup, Weed Card. The pro-gay marriage ballad, Sex With Ducks, takes on Pat Robertson's crazy rhetoric and embraces it.

Of course, mere jokes wear thin after a while, but musical comedy can have longer staying power. Jonathan Coulton's songs like Re: Your Brains remain just as fun even beyond the life of the basic joke. Like Coulton, Garfunkel and Oates have a knack for catchy tunes and good songwriting. With a poppy bounce, their folky arrangements become immediate ear worms. Pregnant Women Are Smug is a great example: well after appreciating lines like, "This zen world you're enjoying, makes you really annoying", the music will be rolling through your brain over and over.

The whimsical mix of clever, quirky humor that's sugar coated with nice musical framing reminds me of early Barenaked Ladies. They've polished the arrangements to move beyond the bare bones self-released versions, but All Over Your Face remains true to the band's simple musical vision.

With regular shows in L.A., periodic appearances on the late night circuit, making a pilot for HBO, and finally getting an album out, Garfunkel and Oates have garnered a lot of attention over the last couple of years. Go ahead and get an official copy of All Over Your Face to support them. Even though most of the tunes have made the rounds already, you'll still get a good laugh.

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