A Few Thoughts About Human Cargo and their Debut Release: Sleep off the Hiway
by Nolan Voyd
I cannot recommend this cd. that is difficult for me to say because i have spent a lot of time with the band. they’re not bad people, for the most part. the music isn’t bad either, if you’re into the whole guitar, drums, and bass thing. so why do i feel compelled to distance myself from this, their first release? i will try to explain.
As they appear live human cargo consists of Christopher Macrae on drums, and Paul Borm on bass. Don Hutton plays guitar and does most of the singing. i was at one of their recent shows. the set ended with a rendition of Ring of Fire that sounded like bastard sons of the Velvet Underground drunk dialing the ghost of June Carter Cash. if Johnny were alive, he would kick their ass. one of the few people in attendance said afterwards that it made them want to smoke some hash, which rhymes, but is also true, just like Dr. Suess.
The thing is, Human Cargo took that remark as a compliment. Macrae was happy that the most ragged and uneven song of their set was the one and only cover they played. i guess that gets to my main point: there is something wrong with these people. i can’t put my finger on what it is, but i don’t trust them.
Hutton is an extraordinary singer/songwriter, which is not say that he is good, just outside the realm of ordinary, as in freakish. for starters, he has enormous ears. this is not some kind of musician lingo. i am simply saying that his ears are really, really big, like cartoonishly huge, but i digress.
Macrae is clearly talented. he did everything on the record except sing and play the guitar. actually, the Eno ebow stuff is him too. he is one of those people who can do just about anything they want to do musically. so why would he fritter away time on a project like this project? a lack of ambition? i don’t think so. what he lacks in drive he more than makes up for with a prodigious consumption of alcohol.
he and Borm have worked together a lot previously. two of their prior projects: Kimberlite Ride, and The Smutts show a lot of promise, if you ask me. check them out on myspace and see if you don’t agree. there i go with the rhyming thing again. macrae and hutton met through a mutual friend named Jack Hyder, who is not blameless in this whole affair, but that is a story for another day.
as Macrae was recording the bass tracks for this album, he kept saying,
“I’m really not a bass player, you should hear my friend Paul.”
and so it was that Borm found himself dragged in to this. he is clearly the smartest one of the group. he tries to keep a distance from this whole ‘human cargo’ thing. yet i am afraid he may already be in too deep. time will tell.
As for you my friend, here is my advice: burn this cd, or put it in a trash compactor, destroy it by whatever means you choose. i am not saying that it could lead to the end of civilization as we know it. if the past few years have taught us anything it is that civilization is perniciously resilient. but why take a chance?
or maybe you’re the kind of person who takes such chances just for chances sake. if so, then go ahead, sleep off the hiway if you like, but you have been warned. don’t sleep on Human Cargo. They are not to be trusted.