Thursday, March 22, 2012

Betty Goo - Superchthonic

Album: Superchthonic
Artist: Betty Goo
Release: November, 1995

As you may have noticed, I've been searching for Betty Goo's Superchthonic for a while now.  (Of course, you know by now that Aaron Tap sang and played guitar for Betty Goo...right??)  I can't even remember exactly when I started searching for it but it's been a while. Finally some dude in Pennsylvania let go of a copy of it (who knows why).  It's in perfect condition and ripe to be signed (someday).  My level of excitement at actually finding it was made apparent by the amount I paid for it and considering it's only 7 songs, my cost basis per song is kind of sick but let me tell you, it is 100% worth it.

Superchthonic (pronounced superthonic, by the way) did not blow my mind clear out of my head the first time I listened to it like Gooicide did, but it is still pretty amazing.  Of course I liked it right away, but to really love it, it kind of had to creep in quietly, it seeped in over time and as a result it has taken a firm hold.  It is just that damn good.  It makes me sad that I missed this band when they were around - that I missed these albums when they were new.  What the hell was I thinking in 1995??  Oh yeah, I guess I was busy finishing high school in the Midwest where Betty Goo wasn't exactly heavily marketed.  At least I've found them now and even with 17 years (good lord) stacked up on top of them these songs are no worse for wear.  They still sound new, at least to me, they're not crusty like some stuff from the 90's sounds when I listen to it now.

These songs cover everything from a distorted self-image to chauvinism it drug use? Anxiety? Both?  When taken as a whole, it's like a broad commentary on how fucked up everything can be, but from a very personal perspective.  Betty Goo strayed pretty far from the typical songs about romantic relationships - good, bad or indifferent - on this record and bless them for that.  Of course, from what I've heard, there is very little about Betty Goo that could be described as "typical".  At it's heart it's still largely guitar-driven rock music, but somehow it transcends that and becomes, you know, kind of magical.

The only overt references to the relationships between men and women deal with male chauvinism...when was the last time you heard that in a rock song??  "Thom Thumb" is perhaps the most satisfying 51 seconds of music I've ever heard.  It's the story of a man who is kind of a pig, the woman who lives in the shadow of that and her possible options for making him pay. Right in the middle of the song is this line: "a man needs a place to put his cock and a woman should do everything but talk" which is so completely perfect in the context of that song.  (and pretty sweet out of context too, to be honest)  And yes, all of that really is contained in 51 seconds - it's amazing.

Let me give you a few examples of what I love about Superchthonic (besides the title).  The line "b-e-d is an alphabet of self-hatred and mockery" in "Vanity".  That whole song is so quick-witted, you really have to pay attention, and I love that.  "Relapse" - the whole thing.  Which I've already rambled about here.  The mastery of the "choose-your-own-adventure-song" (at least, that's what I call them).  "Vanity" ends with "because you know I think I'm...." and "Thom Thumb" ends with "cause there's a good opportunity when the man has had 2 or 3 and he's sleeping sound as sound could be to..."  I dig it when songwriters leave open spaces like that.  When they give their listeners credit for being intelligent enough to get it without necessarily having it spoon fed to them.  "Uncommon Courtesy" (especially the plaintive delivery of the line "how could he do this to me") and "Washed Up" (I'm pretty sure I'm going to make this one my new theme song) both are pretty perfect.  That dramatic pause at the end of "Dear John, I'm Still Smiling" (which I've heard from an extremely reliable source was pretty epic when performed live) when you think it's over, but then it comes back for 30 more seconds of awesome.

There is just something so unique and intelligent about this record...and Betty Goo in general.  I sincerely hope that you'll look for it and find it and love it - everyone should get to experience some incredible stuff like this in their lives.

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