Sunday, March 13, 2011

Smoking Popes - This Is A Test

In recent years of scientific research and discovery, a huge advancement has been made in understanding why our joints do the opposite of aching whenever Asian Man is about to put out a new record. I guess it's similar to barometric or cabin pressure causing somebody with arthritis's joints to ache, but instead it's like some sort of awesome, euphoric, (sexy?) aural pressure which makes you weak at the knees and forces you to hold a smile harder than the cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. It's theory which is completely backed by scientific evidence and a well-researched set of facts and successful experiments. You're reading this on the internet right now; that means it HAS to be true. Right?

If you were born at some point between 1985-1995, your first experience with digging Smoking Popes is probably by hearing their song "Need You Around" each of the 23,000 times you've seen the movie Clueless. At least during the times you weren't  busy quoting it word for word with whatever equally pathetic friend I'm with. I mean, whichever equally pathetic friend you're with. I don't know how I accidentally incriminated myself there...moving on. Smoking Popes were formed by three brothers, which I guess makes them like Hanson or the Jonas Brothers, but for people who don't enjoy torturing their ears or killing their brain cells (at least not killing them via music). The band took like a five year hiatus in 1999, in which singer Josh Caterer formed the Christian band Duvall. This was done because he didn't feel as though mixing his recently found religious views into Smoking Popes was going to be a good fit, and for this, I thank god(s). This new album, "This Is Only a Test" is coming out in two days on Asian Man Records on CD, and then will be released on 12'' next month! You know what's awesome? Neil from the Lawrence Arms plays drums for them now! This is like GNV FLA or some shit, bro. Anyway, I'm fairly certain it's music time, or something.

My immediate reaction to the first track on this record, is that Elvis Costello joined forces with the Shinobu dudes to make beautiful music together, in a nonsexual way. My other thought is that my expectations were punched in the face and replaced with a higher bar for me to run my head into by forgetting that I became tall in the past few years. I think the lack of sleep I'm currently enduring, combined with the surplus of awesome that is attacking my ears, but I'm pretty sure this album is fucking amazing already. The second song "How Dangerous" is so fucking amazing sounding that I may just become a serial killer and a private eye, and discover that it was me committing the murders all along, and almost elude my own self-capture, and then once my serial killer personality quotes Pirates of the Caribbean by saying something about remembering this as the day I almost caught Ben Idle, my private eye personality would nab me. I'll probably make a daring as fuck escape, anyway. So there!

I think the greatness of this album deserves like an algorithm or a mathematical theorem to show how it increases exponentially throughout, regardless of what order you play the songs in. This theorem would have a name and purpose cooler than the infinite monkey theorem. This album's title track is so original, and full of magic that it's more likely to be something out of Lord of the Rings than it is likely to be something from Harry Potter. I mean, both are cool, but we know that LOTR is the original badass here. These songs each earn their own rank of OG (original gangsta') status. I'm pretty sure the song "College" on here was secretly written by me, because not since the last BTMI release have I felt so lyrically attached to a song. I don't want to go to college either, Smoking Popes. I don't even want a job at's rather pathetic. People scare me. I don't like customers or coworkers or uniforms at all. You guys will probably find me somewhere vagranting (not a word) later in life, and feel free to ignore me, I was probably going to use your quarter on booze. This is of course followed by the song "Punk Band", which is like part two of songs that define my world view. This one has a music video, too, which you can check out here.

I feel like Shinobu is the disorganized version of Smoking Popes, and there is something beautiful in this realization to me. I also hear an obvious Ben Folds comparison in this new album, that I haven't heard in any previous release. I'm a Folds fan, but I like this album more than life itself right now. Again, probably due to sleep deprivation. But if I'm able to admit that I might be insane, doesn't that mean I'm probably not insane? That's probably not even relevant. Does correlation imply causation? No. Not really. I meant the Ben Folds thing mostly about the song "Freakin' Out" more than anything else, by the way. Realized I went off topic again. "Diary of a Teen Tragedy" is such a weird a good way, of course. It's like an amazing instrumental track, with the reading of (I'm assuming fictional) diary entries in the perspective of a male teen about a girl he likes. With the amazing, crooning vocals throughout other non-diary reading parts of the song.

The problem with reviewing this album, is that every song is worth mentioning. It gets old for the reader, probably, but after you discover how amazing this release is, you'll probably have fun reading anything you can that discusses it. That's how I am at least. So if you get bored reading my lunatic rants, you can just go stream the album on punknews, and then come back begging for more of my nonsensical whimsy. Wow, I just said whimsy. "I've Got Mono" just made my month, I think. It's like, I let my guard down, and then got hit with another musical onslaught. Tis merely a flesh wound, anyway. I've survived worse.

The album unfortunately closes with the song "Letter to Emily". I'll clarify:  I mean it's unfortunate that the album is over, not that it ends with this song. This song is sex without the bad smell that creepy people claim to like. This song is a an endless box of oreos, or an infinitely replenishing jug of arnies. I wish my band was sponsored by arnies. Fuck FTSK for being all sponsored by arnies and shit. Lucky jerks. "Letter to Emily" is an amazing acoustic number with the ability to turn heads in such an owllike manner that you'll think Hedwig really didn't die, and rather just transcended realities and his spirit lives on in all of us. I think I may've just lost all of our readership with this review. I honestly hope not, though. Hey, go pre-order this fucking album. Excuse my language, because I'm too busy to excuse it myself. 10/10



  1. That's some good writing! Thanks!

  2. Thanks! I was just kind of rambling for the most part.

  3. Great post. Nice history on the band. :)

  4. Thanks! I think I figured out a decent way to incorporate plenty of facts with entertainment value with this one.