Don Rauf’s (or Ralph’s, depending on which album you’ve bought) world is a strange one. He resides in a pocket of the indie music sphere that is decidedly in the rock vein, but that doesn’t fully account for the horns and the violins. He can move across topics as poetic and opaque as a “tongue-cut sparrow in the nest don’t sing,” which has nothing to do with sparrows or singing really, thus the title of Life In a Blender’s latest, We Already Have Birds That Sing. There are literary allusions such as in “Frankenstein Cannot Be Stopped”. Then there are tales of hitting on the ragged, worn-out strippers in a ragged, empty go-go bar (“Mamanama”) and call-and-response of “Good Answer” which works as a sort of “We Didn’t Start The Fire” for yes-men.
With all these disparate threads in place, one expects We Already Have Birds That Sing to be an utterly chaotic mess, yet Life In A Blender manages to neatly knit everything together. The album is short, more of an extra-extended E.P. The songs do not outlive their stay, so there’s never time to admit to one’s self that they don’t quite get the meaning of what’s being sung without the benefit of having the lyrics in front of your face. The group, including Al Houghton and Dave Moody on guitars, Mark Lerner on bass, Ken Meyer on drums and Rebecca Weiner Tompkins on violin, is tight as a double-knot, even when Rauf’s singing is at its most enjoyably shambolic.
But getting back to that world of their own, it’s hard to complete a mental sound picture of what Life In A Blender does, necessarily. They’re kind of like Naked-era Talking Heads, kind of like Psychophramacology-era Firewater, and on “Mamanama” they veer close to Beat Farmers territory (although Rauf could never be mistaken for the insanely deep-voiced Country Dick Montana). In the end, they wind up sounding like something that is entirely foreign in modern music — like themselves, and that’s not a bad position to be in. We Already Have Birds That Sing is recommended and endorsed for listeners who appreciate a little bit of strangeness with their pop music.
We Already Have Birds That Sing can be found at the band’s website: http://www.lifeinablender.net/