This one is something of a pleasure for me to have heard and have the opportunity to review, as I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Rancourt, one of the greatest (and nicest) raconteurs I’ve ever known. We met over 25 years ago when I was at my first record label job and he worked for the company that supplied our print films to produce album, cassette and CD packaging. He was also the keyman who helped my band, The Punch Line, make their appearance on the worldwide R.E.M. tribute album, Surprise Your Pig (we did “Bandwagon”), so even though time has passed, I’m very happy to see him finally releasing something under his own name.
In many ways, this album is an all-star effort – at least in my opinion – as the players involved include Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, guitar-god Gary Lucas and mega-guitarist Don Fleming; production was done by Blue Oyster Cult founding member Albert Bouchard – and if you have a sense of rock history, you’d know that this is one impeccable cluster of cohorts/co-conspirators. There is an air of fun, raw and loose playing – not quite punk but more garage – and the vocal delivery is perfect for these tracks – a mix of some singing and sprechgesang.
Of the songs, “Walking The Trashline” has a loose, almost funky groove to it and gets things off to a rousing start; a modern “party” shoutalong; “Circle’s Gotta Go” is an exercise in hilariously controlled insanity and “Claudine” has some fantastic guitar textures and melody. “I Kissed Pat Place” is a brilliant guitar wipe-out; in places it reminds me of a mix of The Minutemen and Captain Beefheart (and is my favorite track from this collection); “Hail” is a spoken word piece with a cinematic “mystery”/”slasher” film soundscape, eerie and oddly compelling and “She Got Hit” is another full-throttle guitar attack that sums up all the best elements of the performers and is the other balls-out highlight.
A perfect summary of this album comes by way of the press release: “Plum Plum is an album that loosely refers to New York, then and now. There’s a song about no wave icon Pat Place, and “She Got Hit” is a side-door tribute to Lou Reed; it’s “Sister Ray” for the era of the Second Avenue subway. “Leave Your Light On” was written, Rancourt says, for Dolly Parton to sing, and she should, too – preferably greeting a boat of new immigrants at the Statue of Liberty. Kim says “Arkansas Is Burning” is his favorite song, “a pink pussy hat of a protest against political stupidity. Some protest songs don’t get dated.”
You have to love it. And you will.
Plum Plum will be released on Friday, May 12th, 2017