I’m tired of talking about albums everyone knows already! Time to talk about Muckafurgason:
This is a band I guess you would have to have been there for. I saw them, as anyone else who has heard of them surely would have, opening for They Might Be Giants during their 2002 tour promoting their kids’ album No! Their show, to date, is my favorite TMBG-opener. For one, the band switched instruments in every song, so at one point each of the members were the drummer, guitarist, or bassist. One of them played trumpet while drumming, and awkward white guy beat-box rapping is something that just has to be seen outside of that wretched “nerd-core” genre.
Needles to say, I stuck around after the show to pin down a couple of those darn albums they had for sale. I really should have bought everything, had I known they would be no more soon afterward, but I bought 2 of the more important albums, one of which was their self-titled release, which was produced by TMBG’s own John Flansburgh. We listened to it in the car on the way back from Dallas and it’s been a favorite since.
It opens up with a track that may seem mysterious at first (it certainly was for me until just this year) called “Mucker Furgason”, a unique spelling of the band’s already-unique name. It combines some fairly standard upbeat drumming with a whole mess of samples, some of which contain words like “All right”, and “Mucker Furgason”, and, at one point, “That’s what I love about white people!” It’s pretty hilarious, but even better is the story behind it. Apparently, the boys were guests on now-defunct Steve Harvey Show, and after receiving some really bland hazing from Mr. Harvey, proceed to do their beat-box rap about Lunch. A couple of the samples in the song are from that fateful night.
“What’s next for Muckafurgason? … the beginning”
The first song proper on Muckafurgason is “Dictionary”, a fairly straightforward song about the function of a dictionary, including lines like:
I was out with a friend, he called me a name that I’d never heard
Was it good, was it bad? I knew that I had to find that word
So I looked it up in the dictionary, ’cause I couldn’t comprehend
In a book full of explanations to words I found you’re not my friend
A really quick and upbeat pop song, I dig it! This song is sung by the Tall one, Chris Anderson, who also plays the trumpet, even while he’s drumming (seriously that’s awesome).
The next song is a little more intense and slightly more abstract. “Liar” is sung by the Englishman of the trio, Andrew Ure, who presumably wrote the thing, at least as the band told me when I asked who wrote what songs and they replied “generally whoever sings the song wrote it”. It should probably be expected to be a straight-forward song about a liar, and it is, but well:
Well she told me that you went to the library
But I saw you and you were out buying batteries
Well she’s a liar, she’s a liar
I should note that the bridge to the song says:
I saw her in the t-shirt shop getting a t-shirt made that said “I am a liar”
And those are exactly the shirts the band was selling. I really had never seen t-shirt marketing like that in rock music before, and I may not again unless I somehow steal that idea….
The next song is “MC Speller”, a song which uses the exact same beat-box rap as “Lunch”, but the song much more together, and functions a little better as a joke song. The song might work a little better live than on the album, but it doesn’t matter because the nature of the album doesn’t seem to require much cohesion.
Speaking of, the next song is an acoustic ballad! It is actually a really good acoustic ballad, again sung by the English feller, and is called “Part-Time Rock Star”. I liked this song so much that I covered it for the couple of years that I had my own band, and it was always my dad’s favorite cover of mine, and in fact, even years after my band stopped playing, he’d have me play that song so he could harmonize the ending with me. Really good times. The song itself might not be much, just a lovely English-sounding ballad about someone who works in an office 9 to 5 and spends the rest of the time being a rock star. I can certainly say I and many others identify with the song.
So why is the next song called “I Wanna Get…” KC? I don’t know, it’s sung by the band’s supposed leader, John Lee, who a few of you may know as one the creators of Wonder Showzen and another show I’ve never heard of. The song contains the only instance of SWEARING on the album, so I dare not repeat any of the words at this juncture (we’ll save that for later when I talk about some Swedish hardcore metal). The song is not without its own cleverness though:
I’m gonna fight my dad
And I’m not even mad
The next song is sung in part by John Lee and part by Andrew Ure, and it’s called “Rock Spaceship”. It’s really not a particular favorite, but it certainly is energetic enough.
I should maybe stop pointing out instances where the song’s content is exactly what’s in the title, as I now see that this is the case for pretty much all the songs, “Why Don’t You Get Married?” is one, it’s about a woman who is nice so she should get married so guys will stop thinking they have a shot at her (sung in a very old-fashioned way, it’s kind of hilarious). “Janeane” is about Janeane Garofalo, who apparently John Lee dated for a while, “Subtle Spy” is an instrumental that belongs in a 1960′s spy television show, and “Killing Flies” (one of my favorites) is about… killing flies.
These songs are all great, really, and it’s too bad their album is out of print. It would be nice if the internet were more obsessed with the band, that way I could find out if Andrew Ure is doing anything, since he’s the one who wrote my two favorite songs on the album. Unfortunately, web searches just pull up this loser. Muckafurgason in general is a band I would have liked to see keep going, but no matter how good a band is, if there’s no commercial success, that could lead to some difficulties when it comes to staying together and making more albums. Certainly in a couple of days I will be reflecting on a band that met with that end, so until then, see you tomorrow!
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