East River Pipe
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Goodbye California , 6/10 Shining Hours In A Car , 7/10
Poor Fricky, 6/10
Mel , 6/10
The Gasoline Age , 6/10
Garbageheads On Endless Stun (2003), 6/10
What Are You On (2006), 5/10

L'influenza di Brian Wilson sulla generazione dell' "alt-rock" e del "lo-fi pop" e` immensa, e lo dimostrano personaggi come East River Pipe che compongono musica pop arrangiata in maniera barocca benche' abbiano a disposizione mezzi molto limitati.

East River Pipe (ovvero Fred Cornog, ex alcolizzato e senzatetto di Brooklyn) canta l'angoscia di vivere in una grande metropoli nel tono dei Galaxie 500, ma in maniera molto piu' amatoriale. La cassetta del 1989, con New York Of Slime, e la successiva Point Of Memory (Hell Gate, 1990), con Helmet On, che divenne anche il primo singolo, lo resero famoso in un circolo ristretto di addetti ai lavori. Un'altra cassetta, I Used To Be A Kid Colgate (Hell Gate, 1991) sfodero` sette nuove canzoni, e ne sanci' definitivamente l'ascesa a personaggio da culto. Nel 1992 fu cosi' la volta del formato a 45 giri: uscirono Axl Or Iggy, My Life Is Wrong e Make A Deal With The City/ Psychic Whore (Hell Gate) a definire una delle personalita' piu' tetre e contorte del rock newyorkese, capace di belle melodie ma capace anche di deturpare le melodie piu' belle con il suo spleen.

Nel 1994 e' comparso finalmente il primo album vero e proprio, Goodbye California (Sarah), intriso di tristezza e rassegnazione.

Poor Fricky (Sarah, 1994 - Merge, 1995) e` un po' una delusione rispetto alle grande attese che le sue cassette underground e l'album precedente, avevano accesso, ma sempre nobile e intelligente, un pelo piu' amaro di Magnetic Fields e due peli piu' fragile di Yo La Tengo.

Per Lambchop nel 1997 ha scritto Hey Where's Your Girl e Superstar In Trance.

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Shining Hours In A Car (Ajax, 1995 - Merge, 2002), that contains the entire mini-album Goodbye California (Sarah, 1994), is a collection of previously released singles. Through these carefully-crafted home-made recordings, Cornog is establishing himself as a Brian Wilson of melancholy, lonely songs, that can nonetheless achieve an achingly melodic beauty (Helmet On).

If Television were the main influence on his early singles, David Bowie and synth-pop seem to be the influence on Mel (Merge, 1996), and that is not a compliment. Cornog is moving towards a form of mainstream pop that takes tremendous genius to redeem. He finds enough inspiration in the ballads Beautiful Worn-Out Love, I Am A Small Mistake and Lonely Line Away, mainly because they sound more like classical sonatas ruined by a tedious singer. The best moments are those in which Cornog wakes up and either speaks from the heart (the stately, keyboards-based, six-minute dirge We're Going to Nowhere) or forgets the pathos and delves into the technique (the instrumental New York Crown, a collage of noise, effects, distortions and melody).

Cornog turned to Lou Reed as a source of inspiration for the concept album The Gasoline Age (Merge, 1999), devoted to the urban losers like all his best songs (Atlantic City, Shiny Shiny Pimpmobile). And now things begin to make sense: Cornog uses Brian Wilson's vocabulary to create a musical idiom that reenacts Lou Reed's decadent poetry.

After a four-year hiatus, Cornog delivered another emotional product, Garbageheads On Endless Stun (Merge, 2003), with melodic, lyrical and arrangement gems such as Where Does All The Money Go and Girls on the Freeway. The mood can be melancholy (The Long Black Cloud) and neurotic (Stare the Graveyard Down), but never overwhelming.

What Are You On (Merge, 2006) was a strange collection of short songs. Crystal Queen and I'll Walk My Robot Home could rank among his poppiest numbers, but they end too soon. Cornog seems obsessed with drugs (What Are You On, Druglife, Some Dreams Can Kill You) but hardly spends enough time or energy to explore the subject. The electronic arrangements and the electronic beats sound like the kind of music that an amateur conceives to disguise that he doesn't know how to arrange his songs. Everything in this album could have been majestic and subtle, but, instead, it turned out plain and trivial.

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