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The Homeland

Thrill Jockey
thrill 137 - 2004

Bobby Conn is back this time with a vengeneance. The Homeland is first and foremost a rock record. Clad in glam attire, Mr. Conn, a consummate entertainer, pays homage to rock and roll’s excesses. Paradoxically Mr. Conn’s lyrics read like a Michael Moore letter. Lampooning the sacred cow of American values has always been a calling card of Mr. Conn. The Homeland continues Bobby’s long running commentary on consumerism as culture. However, Mr. Conn reserves his most acerbic mockery for George Dubya. Songs that you bang your head to, shake your fist to, performed by a man in pastel pleather and eye makeup seem to be incongruous with political commentary; however Bobby Conn stands alone in his ability to seamlessly blend the two.

The Homeland was recorded in Chicago in the summer of 2003 under the watchful eye, careful ear and smooth silky moves of John McEntire. Making their debut on record, the Glass Gypsies are the musical family behind the magnetic Mr. Conn. Breaking the Glass Gypsies down into their individual roles we first have Colby Stark, providing the insistent pulse on drums. A verteran of Bobby’s touring band since 2001 and a featured player on The Golden Age, Colby is a stick-twirling showman on his kit, pounding out huge beats and abandon. On the mic, however, he is sweet and delicate, like a cherubic choir. Bassist Nick Macri (Mark Eitzel, Zincs and Euphone) provides a rock solid bass-frequency foundation to the head rocking, hip-shaking The Homeland. Late addition Pearly Sweets has a long, lean body that quivers and shimmies with emotion when he attacks his keyboards. By any measure, either metric or English, he is twice Bobby’s size and the tallest of the Gyspies. Ultra-guitarist Sledd, another touring band veteran, combines a fondness for atonal serial composition with technical mastery of guitar pyrotechnics not heard since 1981-era Van Halen. Beautiful Monica BouBou, Bobby’s longtime partner and collaborator, again adds her unorthodox harmonic sense with both her violin arrangement and her organ playing. Everyone’s here and while they may "come in peace", get ready cause "they’re taking over the world."