(Like all things on my website; this shit is a mess beyond explanation. I'm still doing [finally finished] a song by song review of the new CD "The Thin Mercury Sound". 1 song from the pre-release was dropped, and 2 more were added--I'm still trying to make sense of it, okay? You know what: Don't read any of this; run screaming for your life right now. Run to a record store and buy some Caviar--quickly. They are not just better than they were 8 years ago, they are excellent now. And pissed. And jaded. And they're not very optimistic, either. Jeezus I love these guys!)

Fig Dish / Caviar

Aezra Records
2003 CD Release
Band: Caviar
CD Title: (Not Yet Named)

Atlas, Polydor, and Island Records have tried, and now (my friend E-Rock's label) Aezra Records wants to take a stab at promoting this versatile (and very hard to pigeonhole) band from Chicago. Their full-length CD (first release as "Caviar" on Island Records in...) in 2000 was a nice mix of their old "Fig Dish" sound, combined with some experimentation and overall widening of their range--this is good. If you only listen to one song from the 2000 release, make it "Tangerine Speedo"--an excellent representation of what the band can offer (this song was also on the Charlie's Angels movie soundtrack).

This new release (Summer 2003) has an even tighter studio quality, and the band's influences are definitely showing now; Beck, James, Weezer, U2, INXS; Lou Reed?, Bowie?, Gran Turismo? There's alot of stuff happening here. The whole album is quite enjoyable--even though there's more cohesive songwriting and less punk-pop than the old days. It's not so obvious what the first single might be...

(before I even had a listing of the names of the songs, I wrote...) Song #2 sticks in your mind. Song #8 has a catchy chorus of "Where are you?"; it may be a good guess for radio. Song #10 has another catchy "The darkness in you", hmmm. #12 has lots of good things in it, as well. I'll get a song list later.

Song List:

#1 10% November
#2 On the DL (the first radio single)
#3 Aloha
#4 Lioness (check out the last 10 seconds...)
#5 Clean Getaway (Lou Reed?)
#6 666
#7 Ego tripping (check out the last minute)
#8 Where are you
#9 She's your problem now
#10 You've got a black black heart (unmixed)
#11 Last of the gold (unmixed)
#12 Last rays of the sun

The last 2 songs are not named on my song list:

#13 Hey let go (or, Ask the questions)?
#14 Deep down I'm shallow like you?

Since starting this review in the last week of September 2003, by October 7th...wait for it... Caviar has signed with Aezra Records! Song #2 has been picked as the first radio single, and the advanced mixing production of the disc has begun. Stay tuned!

(Here's the crap that was building up in the musical section of my webpage as of 9-04--it was only a matter of time before I would have to turn this into a full page of its own.)

Boy, I'd sure like to review the new 2003 Caviar CD. I have an advanced copy of the disc...now if the band will just sign on to E-Rock's Aezra record label. Try to stay calm...Yes, they signed in late 2003. Caviar will have the newest release/latest record hopefully out by 6-04. The copy of the CD that I have is not completely what the new CD will be--so I don't need to review the pre-release disc. Now I want a pre-copy of the REAL disc, because it should be well-produced and ready to go. The band is doing new pictures, as of 3-04, and will be ready to road-promote by this summer, hopefully.
6-04 update: Caviar's new CD "The Thin Mercury Sound" is scheduled to be released in late July, 2004. E-Rock and his babe wife have promised me a copy of the disc. I will get one and review it for us.
Well, that was the plan, anyway. E-Rock is now saying here in 8-04 that I need to go buy the new Caviar CD. Buy it? He's funny. As far as I'm concerned, E-Rock still owes me money from his bands-for-bars phone promotions. So he can GIVE me a new Caviar CD (which I will happily review), and a t-shirt, or he can kiss my hairy white ass. I already have/he already gave me the pre-disc recordings; I sort of know what the thing is going to sound like...It sure looks like this is going to be another example of principles, and who's going to back down first. Snicker. It's too bad that Caviar's new boss has his panties in a bunch. Fuck 'em all; I ain't buyin' no CD, won't antie up for a shirt, and won't pay to go see them play live either (now hang on--we would like to see them play live). Yeah, that's true. But I'll steal the goddamn CD 3 different ways, and NOT write a review of it; how does that sound Aezra boy? This is my fucking world now, with my rules. Don't like it? Leave. Leave, and don't fucking come here again.

From my 2002 Commentary about the music business:
"I do have a suggestion for the music big-wigs though; give us the new CD's for free. Why free? We already have the music we want to listen to; we don't give a shit about some new crap you have. But if you GIVE it to us, then MAYBE we'll listen to it, and talk about it. I mean, probably not, but it's your dumbass line of work; we sure as hell aren't going to spend any of our $9 an hour to line your pockets even deeper." Read the entire pissy commentary by clicking here.

I'm just sitting here and thinking to myself that, as a Fig Dish/Caviar fan, the pre-disc recordings--that I already have--are much more rare and unique than the polished finished product anyway. Maybe I don't even want an official corporate copy of the new Caviar CD; I'll just make-do with my "alternative resources".

9-28-04 now: Wow! Look at all the anger I have here. I'm not really mad at E-Rock; he's more or less the same asshole prick he's always been--and I don't have to extend any favors toward him anymore. I might even be willing, but he doesn't ask. He deserves his own commentary...Here's a guy who got a nice chunk of money dumped in his lap, and he decided to start a record company from the perspective of a music lover. It's a nice story already--before he even gets the chance to sign Caviar and put out their newest CD.

So he tells me, last Summer (2003), about this band that he's trying to sign, named "Caviar". He says under his breath that they used to be called "Fig Dish" or something. I completely freaked out, and told him what a huge Fig Dish fan I was. Some fan; I didn't know shit. (Just to keep you near the same page as me--the music industry ate itself in '98 and '99. Bands were dropped, traded, and forgotten; names and titled copyrights were stolen + shuffled, and I got kicked off the radio for the final time--so even I lost interest.) Turns out that Caviar (formed from the ashes of Fig Dish in 2000) even had a song on the Charlie's Angels soundtrack; "Tangerine Speedo". Go find it on your own time--it's a nice little song with a huge following. E-Rock helped me to get a copy of Caviar's 2000 album that was on the band's 3rd record label (Island). And then E-Rock got me a copy of the pre-release (4th record label) Aezra Records CD in Summer 2003. So E-Rock helped me out immensely; I shouldn't be so quick with my anger (but that's the price you pay for knowing me).

Purchased at Zia Records on 9-26-04...So there's 15 songs on the official new Caviar release; more than the 14 on my pre-release disc. And 1 of the first 14 was dropped, so there's actually 2 songs here that are new to me. Me happy. On the CD is also the website of the band Caviar. I'd been trying to find that; thank you. Go to their site and read the bio; that's some pretty insightful shit for a not-famous band from Chicago; you'll see. Also, while you're in surf-mode, check in over at Aezra Records, and read some more about them. Sometimes you can even download their digital press kit, maybe you'll get lucky. You could even join the Aezra street team and possibly help Caviar's success. I'm just planting seeds here.

This Caviar review is a work in progress--it's going to take months. I would like to thank the powers that be; past and present, for the fact that the core of this great band is still intact and strong in 2004. 1995's single "Quiet Storm King" fooled us into thinking that they were a punk-pop band, but that was just one song. This newest CD; The Thin Mercury Sound, shows the kind of range I've been looking for--for years.

Why would they drop "She's Your Problem Now"? That's the ultimate (if not the only) 'Oh, you want my girlfriend? Well, be careful what you wish for.' song. The 2 new songs here are #8 "Tiny Cannibal Bites" and #12 "Light Up the Sky". They're both okay, but neither is nearly as good as 'Problem'. Again; that's just my fan-of-the-band opinion, but it should count for something.

10-2-04 Update (this thing just keeps getting longer and longer); Taking a break from worthless North America, Caviar is hitting Europe right now. Europeans are generally more responsive to bands with outstanding range, where American fans are more into bands that "specialize" (There's some more profound fucking insight, huh?). Apparently the song "Lioness" is getting some good response in the UK, and this is the song that I will be getting a unique accoustic recording of. I'm also looking forward to seeing the behind-the-senes and video interview of the band, so THAT will be another update next week (I told you this was going to take months!).

Well, let's list the songs on the real release. We can continue commentating before, during, and after. It's almost like this is MY webpage and I can do whatever the fuck I want to. Hold still so I can pee on you:

Caviar's "The Thin Mercury Sound"
Track By Track Analysis:

#1 Aloha: First track, bringing Caviar to a new generation. I already know every song on the CD, and I start to 2nd guess the order of things. Here, and in life, both. What would you want to show with the 1st song? This is a fantastic display of total songwriting skill; starts, stops, hooks; over-produced--but still in the garage. This song is actually a good one to showcase the whole album; in one song. If you're scared of the audience running away, and you have to do it all in 3:23, then this is a great 1st choice. This is 1 of about 5 really good overall tracks on the album.
#2 Clean Getaway: Now that you have stayed through the 1st song, let the party begin. This song starts with a...cello? This is not standard stuff. Then it permeates a sweet Lou Reed riff, and you get lost in a soft head bob. It's enjoyable, and you start trying to link it--mentally--to other things in your collection. This is a complete collage; chaos, a really good...omlette? You don't even get the 1st chorus until 2:15 in, and by then you're lost. What are they thinking? And then it dawns on you that they don't care what you think; they don't want you to be able to link them to anybody--they want you to link them to everybody. This is new (to you, anyway). They're trying to be different and still good, and it's working. There's something in the back of your mind that says 'I don't know where they're going with the next song--but I'm sure gonna find out.' Sidenote: you are a Caviar fan now. Having already heard 2 decent songs that don't sound much like anything else you've heard (lately), you're going to give a fair listen to 3 and 4. It just so happens that 3 and 4 are (maybe) the two best songs on this CD.
#3 Lioness: All the rave in Europe, and gaining good speed in the "city of Angels", welcome to what will be the 2nd single on the album--Lioness. Listen to the way the singer's voice drifts between speech and song; oh this is impressive. You want a pop hook? No problem. Talented guitar; check. Layers of quality; yeah this works. What do you mean it's over? That's the shortest 3:42 in years, baby. As your reviewer, I recommend that you go ahead and play this song 2wice; we will be doing a group activity for song 4. Get out your headphones while you learn the chorus of Lioness 1 more time.
#4 Hey Let Go: Oh, you're a fan now. And you're not the first person to freak for how good this band is either; congrads. Now you're going to 'hey let go' for song 4. Slap on the headphones and get comfortable. Make them loud, but not obnoxious; 5 or 6 volume should be fine (not Metallica loud--more like Weezer loud, trust me). No expectations, and no critique. Not blown away; they're just going to take you on a little ride. I'll be back in about 4 and a half minutes...Wow! See; this is the type of shit you hear, and you think it's incredible, and they make it seem so easy, and you think that you can do it, too! But you can't. These guys have been doing THIS for years; just because you're hearing it in disbelief for the 1st time doesn't mean anything to them. This is the easiest song on the album; by music standards it's probably the least complicated arrangement to be found here. Did you like it? I sure did. But...
#5 You've Got a Black Black heart: But I'm trying to pretend that this is my 1st listen. Let's go for another ride; please, please, can we? Sure. But here comes your "cruise control". See; the 1st single is next. This song is all about continuation and construction. Ever heard a song with a double chorus? "Black, black heart." and "Darkness in you"? They even get combined; you've never heard anything like this. You should be lost in this music by now. Are you smiling yet? You should be; you've got a new band to go do some background on. Plan your internet barrage later--it's time for the 1st single.
#6 On the DL: Verbal toying; alliteration (my fucking favorite), the phone sound effects. Playful, yet still creative and well-written. You wanted to hear them try, right? Try to be radio-friendly? Try to act pigeon-holed for most of 4 minutes? Try to appeal to corporate radio at least once, right? This is it. Hope you enjoyed it. It's an excellent song; not my favorite though--because this is the single. I'm more of an album-cut kind of guy; I like the experimentation stuff; starting the 2nd song on the album with a cello, and then a Lou Reed riff. Double choruses. That's ballsy shit. Those are my guys. We'll have a chick song later, too; but this is the first single--and it's good.
#7 Last of the Gold: Cruise control again; after a big play we take it down a notch. Here's the song on the CD with (possibly) the catchiest chorus--if it's not the "Down Low" of track 6. I like the weaker potential radio shit here in the middle cuts of the album--by the way. This song has superb vocal range; pump up the volume to really grasp it. It's a very well-written composition actually; more excellent lyrics and quality instrumentation. It's just a tad slow for my taste. Wait until you're doing your background on the band, when they were "Fig Dish" back in 1995, and grab a listen of the pop-punk masterpiece "Quiet Storm King". This #7 song here seems to be the anti-punk song of the album, but I'm punk. I see 4 different record labels for these guys as 4 different chances to poke the masses with "Quiet Storm King". #7 is not weak (well maybe a little), it's just the 'girlie appeal' song. I don't need for girls to like Fig Dish. I mean "Caviar".
#8 Tiny Cannibal Bites: I skip this one. I can like a band, even love a whole album, and still skip 1 song. I skip this one. It'd be much better live; it just doesn't grab me here. I'd call this the weak one. Bite me. (Remember how you were "set-up" for tracks 3 and 4? You're being set-up again for tracks 9 and 10. Shhh.)
#9 666: "Ballsy" track 2 started with a cello, right? Okay; how many really good instrumentals have you heard lately? This one has horns and a big band slide to it. Crank this up. Ha! I fucking love this shit! If only there could be a 9 minute re-mix of this! God damn I wish I could play this on the radio; loud! Instrumentals are all about musical quality and not riding one wave too long. Ha! Can YOUR sissy band pull off an instrumental this well? I think not.
#10 Deep Down I'm Shallow: Now you're distracted; impressed, but kind of dizzy (welcome to my world). They held your attention through an instrumental; wow. You're certainly not ready for it, not prepared for it, nowhere near deserving of it, but now comes THIS; the 2nd best complete package on the CD. You might end up singing this in the shower. Start it loud, although the first 47 seconds are soft. Be ready at 48 seconds for the kick of a truly catchy chorus; lyrical, musical, unforgettable. Again; they make it sound so easy. Wanna hear some tight bandplay? Check right around 2:50 where they rev up and then stutter-step in to the final chorus; that's some amazing (hydroponic) shit right there. Makes you want to get up and dance, alone, in your underwear. Fuckin' go for it; I won't tell anybody. You should be shaking your head by the end of this song; I am. Why, why, why can't this be a radio single?
#11 Where Are You: Another strong-enough song, but carried a by a really good yet simple chorus. Not too complicated. This is more like a story-telling song--lost love lyrics. There's not much experimentation here--it's fairly straight ahead. This is like the song for slightly more intelligent girls--but it's not a girlie song. Check the 18 seconds of strong and dreamy guitar at 2:38. I like this--I really do. But if this is my first listen, then I'm still humming "Deep Down I'm Shallow Like You.". No offense. In fact, the band is smart to put a simpler song here.
#12 Light Up the Sky: I don't skip this one; but as the replacement for "She's Your Problem Now" this song falls just a bit short. As an album cut, it's fair enough. This is the default sound of a far-above-average band. It's good; I'd love to hear it live. "Problem" was 1 of the first 15 songs recorded for this album, and it's really catchy. You may never hear it; you get to light up the sky.
#13 10% November: While we speak of the first 15 songs recorded for this album, track #13 here was the first song on the pre-disc recordings. Hang on, hang on, it DOES mean something (and I would have left this as #1). It means that somebody who works in a studio was convinced that THIS would be the first single--after it got cleaned up a little bit. See; I'm here to help you notice little things like this. So you're going to have to play this song 2wice, as well. Go ahead and dribble through the first listen; look at the CD, pull out the liner notes. Later we'll go back and try to figure out what kind of Ali-Baba stuff that was in the beginning. This is the band trying to make strange sounds seem perfectly adequate in a modern song. You'll need to hear this song at least 10 times before you'll respect it. It IS kind of "out there". This is Caviar. Admit it; this has been fun. What else were you going to do with that last hour of your life anyway? Shut up. This song concludes your lesson in Caviar; and you've been a very cooperative student. You're really not ready for these last 2. Okay--you've been warned.
#14 Ego Trippin: Just showing off! This is as close to "Quiet Storm King" as we get, but it's close enough. It's not even punk, it's just faster than the rest. It's quality, it's catchy, you're impressed, and you'll play this song for other people, sure, but it's as good as a secret in your world. You'll never hear this anywhere except where you play it. Isn't that a shame? E-Rock is going to get this CD put on the jukebox at my bar--so I'LL be able to hear this while I'm playing pinball, ha! On the pre-disc there was about a minute of really cool experimental shit at the end of this song, but it's gone now. Your loss.
#15 Last Rays of the Sun: STOP! Turn it off now! You were not supposed to make it through 14 songs, you rookie! Very important piece of trivia about this song; it's for FANS ONLY! It's not for you. This is the single best range on the CD; wait, single with the best range, best ranging single? #10 was the 2nd best complete package on the CD, so as you listen to this with your bottom jaw dropped to the floor, welcome to the #1 complete package on the album. Sure. Catchiest chorus, accoustic guitar! (maybe), shhh, this is actually the best overall everything imaginable. Later you'll go back and have quality lyrical revelations, too. I could tell you what to listen for, but I already know--and I want you to finger it out for yourself. Anybody who's ever had the mental picture, but lacked the words to describe it, this is your new anthem. THIS song will eventually make you cry. Seriously; not today. Not tomorrow either. But after about 30 listens, when you know the words and the drum runs, you'll be blurry-eyed by the end. Honestly; you were just treated right here. You were not ready to try to grasp this song; luckily, your little world has already pulled you away...

Now go back and pick 4 songs that you would play for your best friend. My picks would be 3, 4, 10 and 14. Later I'd go back and play 6, 9 and 15--but only if there was genuine interest in the band.

Last week I was reviewing a good rock CD by Dream Life Misery that probably should have had more range; but it was well-specialized. Now we have this creative construction of 16 total songs by a band that simply fucking REFUSES to fly in the formation of any singular style (They fucking brag about non-adherence on the Aezra Records video promo, and do shout-outs to other non-adherent bands like Joy Division, New Order, and the Cure.). It is both refreshing, and infuriating, at the same time. Welcome to the world of Caviar, people.

In review; gee, can you tell that I like these guys? First week of November update; I pretty much just listen to Caviar and Crystal Method in my room now. What a waste, right? Me; the guy with 3000 CD's, now listening to less than 10 of them. Oh well. The point I wanted to make here is that I've got the "Thin Mercury Sound" down to 3 songs; 4, 10 and 15. That would be "Hey Let Go", "Deep Down I'm Shallow", and "Last Rays of the Sun"; these are the 3 songs I will play at the bar when this CD is added to the jukebox later this month.

November 17, 2004: The CD is in the jukebox at my bar now. Life is good.

Wow. 11-21-04 now; it is FUN to play Caviar at the bar. I know the choruses, and most of the words, and it's just so comfortable. I'm used to hearing this music on my small computer speakers; now I can hear it pretty loud at the bar. I've played the music for my regular friends, also for strangers, and once just for myself. Nice. $1 gets you 3 songs; here's how I do it. $1 gets us my 4, 10 and 15; that's "Hey Let Go", "Deep Down I'm Shallow", and "Last Rays of the Sun". Then my second $1 gets 3, 6 and 14; that's "Lioness", "On the DL", and "Ego Trippin'". If need be, then I will add a third set later ("Clean Getaway", "666", and...). Caviar at the bar; I like it! I'm already wondering if E-Rock and I can push to get the 2000 Caviar CD also put on the jukebox. Why not? We'll play it. Shit.

There are so many "firsts" and new "moments" about having a very obscure new CD on the jukebox at the bar I frequent. That the band is one of my favorite obscure bands, and that the band is on the record label of a guy I know--who also frequents the same bar--there will be many extra special tidbits in this file. Here's the latest: Tuesday 11-23-04, I didn't even see that E-Rock was at the bar, but I was the first person to go put money in the jukebox, and played "Hey Let Go", so then (by hearing the Caviar) E-Rock knew that I was at the bar, and yelled hello to me. Bar sounds update; we heard my 4, 10 and 15 as the first 3 Caviar songs. I've done this a few times now (4, 10 and 15); let me tell you how it plays out. "Hey Let Go" has no problems, but it comes across as slightly weak (maybe it's the piano). The third song in my group, #15 "Last Rays of the Sun", the chorus comes out a little whiney. But the mid song of my 3, #10 "Deep Down I'm Shallow", THAT song rocks the bar (it makes me want to put #14 "Ego Trippin" in the first group). And it ain't just me noticing that the bar likes 'Shallow'; E-Rock heard the same shit I did. As far as a song on the jukebox in a bar goes, 'Deep Down' has all the elements to get strangers to head-bob. I saw it myself, dude, it was sweet. And then my golf companions followed up the Caviar lesson with some strong (double) shots of Stevie Ray Vaughn; it's like we were giving a clinic on how to be DJ's. Can your bar do this?

Hey, it's December already! I have a new order of Caviar songs for the bar. Now I go with 6, 10, and 3. 6-"On the DL" (first single), 10-"Deep Down I'm Shallow" (best bar song), and 3-"Lioness" (2nd single). I am a genius wow.

And I thought that I might go ahead and make a case FOR listening to Caviar, rather than wait for this Caviar trend to wind down. Honestly I don't know if this trend WILL wind down, and maybe I can explain it. If YOU have never lived in a college town, then maybe you won't quite get this. But, wait, I bet that you HAVE shoppped in a music store where the employees all have superior attitudes and talk down to you like you're dumb. And you're thinking; 'hey you little greasy 20 yr.old punk, you don't know shit about shit--don't be acting like you're better than me'. Right; has that happened to you, too? Sure it has. Well THAT is like life in a college town; all the people there think that they are better than the sheep over in the big cities (and we are). People in college towns read Far Side and Bloom County comics because that's intelligent humor--smart people stuff. People in college towns will follow local quirky bands around, bands that have a particular sound--but that also try different styles and textures. College town bands don't aim to be pigeon-holed into a particular style; these bands are the true "alternative". In my opinion, Caviar is the ULTIMATE college town band (even though they're from Chicago). Caviar is like a national Five Eight, or a national Hazel Virtue (great Athens bands). Their music is not for everybody, although it could be. Caviar is playful, even if a bit pompous. And they don't care if YOU like them or not. That's the whole point. Even I wish that Caviar's Blake Smith would get back in touch with the pop-punk that he does so well and makes sound so easy. His goal is to bypass national "streamlined" popularity in order to achieve recognition for versatility. It may not seem like the brightest move, hell--it may not even happen, but you have to respect the independence of doing this his own way. It is, after all, HIS record store, and he can run it any damn way he wants to. Does it make sense yet? It makes perfect sense to me.

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