Life in a Blender | Homewrecker Spoon

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Homewrecker Spoon

by Life in a Blender

A carnival of sound and absurdist musings combined with heartfelt mewlings of joy and despair.
Genre: Rock: College Rock
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Go to Man
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4:29 $0.99
2. Homewrecker Spoon
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4:49 $0.99
3. The Answer
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3:20 $0.99
4. Kill the Bottle
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3:37 $0.99
5. Sean Connery
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3:27 $0.99
6. Hoot Owl
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3:27 $0.99
7. The Juiciest Plum
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2:44 $0.99
8. The Rain Makes Me Thirsty
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3:33 $0.99
9. Summer Goes Too Fast
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3:27 $0.99
10. Silver Spoon
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3:16 $0.99
11. Does the Lady?
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3:01 $0.99
12. Stranger's Foot
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2:44 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
A Short History For over 25 years, Life in a Blender has been the canvas for singer and songwriter Don Ralph's blackly comic landscapes. The group has released six albums ranging from screaming punk to orchestrated chamber pop, and has brought the high theatrics of its live act to stages from Berlin to Austin to Toronto to Brooklyn and Seattle.

Don Ralph formed the band with high school friend Dave Moody (then bassist, now cellist), and within a couple of years had acquired the drumming services of Ken Meyer. Guitarist Al Houghton and bassist Mark Lerner joined in 1992, and violinist Rebecca Weiner Tompkins signed on in 1993. While the band's core lineup has remained remarkably constant for the past 18 years, the list of former members, guest artists, and collaborators includes Chris Butler (The Waitresses, Tin Huey), Chris Rael (Church of Betty), Jonathan Gregg, John Linnell (They Might Be Giants), Gavin Smith (Les Sans Culottes), and Olivier Conan (Chicha Libre, Las Rubias Del Norte).

Life in a Blender's songs have appeared in at least two films: "Friend from Quebec" was featured in the Michael Moore's Canadian Bacon, and "Mobile Wash Unit" appeared in Sara Lamm's documentary, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox.

The band's seventh album, "Homewrecker Spoon," produced by Al Houghton, is slated for release in March 2011.
The players

Don Ralph (vocals) loves W.C. Fields, Preston Sturges, and Nikola Tesla. He lives with his lovely beekeeping wife, Monique, and his cartooning, surrealistic son, Leo. He has written books under the name Don Rauf, including Killer Lipstick and Other Spy Gadgets. He is the proud founder of The Blowhole Theater, an annual Brooklyn variety show featuring the Blowhole Theater Players and their characters Puckerballs the Garbage Can Elf, Scottish Jesus, and Abraham Lincoln.

Al Houghton (guitar, vocals, producer, engineer) cut his teeth on innumerable shards of New York’s music, including the more enduring They Might Be Giants, Antony and the Johnsons, and Enrique Iglesias. He can generally be found at Dubway Studios, NYC, or at home in Manhattan with his wife, the artist Sky Pape.

Mark Lerner (bass, vocals) has led the bands Flat Old World and Rosine and has recorded with Mark Donato, John Linnell, Uncle Rock, the Good Loser Club, and many others. He is a graphic designer and lives in the Catskill Mountains of New York. He can be found at Rag & Bone Shop.

Ken Meyer (Drums and cymBals) has played with an embarrassing number of embarrassing bands in the NYC area. He is also an audio engineer and an amateur papyrologist.

Dave Moody (cello) loves a great pop tune.

Rebecca Weiner Tompkins (violin and viola) has played and recorded acoustic and amplified four- and five-string violin and viola with Life in a Blender, Chief, Scott McClatchy, Patti Smith, Jim Malone, Standpipe, Stage Shadows, Dayna Blitz, Louie Fleck, Eddie Skuller, Menthol Kings, Mark Donato, Canoeful Of Strangers, Zane Campbell, Mary Connolly, Stellan Wahlstrom, Paul Page, Clockwork Robin, Carrie Nation, Dreamhouse, Waldo County Line, Bluegrassachusetts, Tuna Canyon Boys . . . .

Life in a Blender Members Emeritus include the estimable Mel Melon.


Reviews


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Joe Ross

Pop underground music that is melodic, inventive & clever
Brooklyn-based Life in a Blender’s songwriter and singer Don Ralph is an illustrator who uses music in place of paint to reveal elusive nuances of thought, emotion and life. Back in their high school days over 25 years ago, Don Ralph was inspired to form a band with friend Dave Moody (now cellist with the group). By 1993, four other core band members had also signed on. They include Al Houghton (guitars, banjo, organ, piano, backing vocals, percussion), Ken Meyer (drums, cymbals, percussion), Mark Lerner (bass, mandolin, banjo, backing vocals), and Rebecca Weiner Tompkins (violin, viola). The band has a bizarre sense of humor, whimsical outlook on life, and charm. They no doubt have a cult following for their pop underground music that is melodic, inventive and clever.

To understand Don Ralph’s title cut on the band’s seventh album, we must first remember the nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle” in which the dish ran away with the spoon. Then remember how British artist/illustrator Randolph Caldecott anthropomorphized the utensils with the spoon in a dress with a big red bow. Finally, I start to gain some insight into how Don Ralph’s eccentric songwriting mind works. “Reminds me of Old Homewrecker Spoon, The nursery rhyme should have given you a clue.” In the song, I fully expected Tompkins to take off sawing her violin like a “cat and the fiddle,” but instead she provides some subtle chops that fit right into song’s dynamic groove.

The colored pictures that Life in a Blender whips up are built upon lyrics, melodies and instrumental dynamics. Of special note are the arrangements that incorporate the horns of Jackie Coleman (trumpet), Kevin Moehringer (trombone), and Gavin Smith (alto sax). Ed Pastorini’s piano also appears on four tracks, three of which also have Jane Young’s backing vocals (“Summer Goes Too Fast,” “Sean Connery,” and “Homewrecker Spoon). Thus, these three might be best choices for airplay, but I must confess a liking to the funky effects in “Hoot Owl” and “post-apocalyptic joy” in the uplifting, optimistic song “Juiciest Plum.” Lerner’s banjo is also especially effective in another song “The Rain Makes Me Thirsty” that might have also been inspired by a nursery rhyme. The song’s genesis includes brief interludes of instrumental gypsyjazz and finally a unique rocking flair. The title cut’s theme is revisited in “Silver Spoon” in which Don Ralph sings “Silver spoon, right since birth he’s put you to work, Why not rest a bit? It’s time for a switch, to my mouth.” He also presents a convincing case in “The Answer” that “I am the answer, Burning through every room in your brain.”

This is the kind of music that grows on you. It has a fair amount of complexities in arrangement, but at the same time it also conveys hints of playful childishness. It’s all presented with inimitable gusto in a manner that is interesting and provocative. I wonder what kinds of songs Don Ralph would come up with after studying additional rhymes and illustrations for such tales as The House that Jack Built, The Great Panjandrum Himself, or Sing a Song of Sixpence. They would surely be quirky, vivid and enlightening! (Joe Ross, Roots Music Review)