Reviews for [RL105]
Graham Repulski "Success Racist"
- The Answer Is In the Beat
Now based in Pennsylvania, prolific lo-fi songwriter Graham Repulski continues to release brilliant music at an astonishing rate. His short, hissy, abstract tunes are reminiscent of ’90s indie rock at its most simultaneously catchy and experimental, with 3 minute anthems like “Octopus Bribes” sitting alongside minute-long fragments which sound like they were recorded in a laundromat. His vocals generally sit behind the wall of guitar fuzz, and sometimes they’re double tracked. Song structures can build up into something monumental, or they can just wither away and dissolve. A few tracks have drum machines, others just have severely distorted drums, and others have none whatsoever. “James Run” has the most starkly emotional lyrics and melody, and of course it’s half-hidden behind guitars and barely makes it past two minutes before it gets smashed into the flanged-out psych-pop of “Planned Blackouts”. The album gets progressively catchier from there, culminating in the bludgeoning “In Waves” which commands “I want you to kill my mind.
- Raised By Gypsies
The music of Graham Repulski is full of lyrics but it can also be instrumental. Within the j-card insert on this cassette you will find lyrics- just like when I was a kid- and though they may appear to be a lot of words when you take into account the fact of many songs they represent versus how many songs are on this cassette overall you might find yourself thinking that this is in some ways more music than lyrics but that isn't really the case because some of the instrumental songs are shorter.
On the whole Graham Repulski makes lo-fi rock n roll. One of the first influences I can hear is Superdrag and then I also would say it sounds a bit like Daniel Johnston fronting early Green Day as well (And by "early" I mean that "Kerplunk" would be the cut off point) It's distorted, yet sharp and can bring out elements of the Flaming Lips as well. Vocals are just belted out through cymbal crashes and in some ways it can even be punk which makes me think it might have comparisons with The Thermals.
Through clanking and banging I can consider this to be "weird rock", though I often do tend to find that most people use that term when they hear music they don't know how to describe rather than what it really should sound like. At times it's Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and then as he belts out "I thought it was you" it can become a bit haunting in its delivery. Overall though these rock songs are built on electric melodies and it's hard to ask for much more.
I can't really say that if you're a fan of "Band A" then you'll enjoy Graham Repulski, but I can say that if you grew up in the 1990's and remember most things being on cassette- and especially when you think of the rock music of that early and mid-'90's- then this is something you will surely enjoy. I remember how long it took me to get a compact disc player when they first came out because cassettes (which were already inexpensive) became even less expensive and so the ideas of getting 13 cassettes from Columbia House for a penny or 6 CDs seemed like a no brainer, right? And then the tape on my Foo Fighters self-titled cassette ripped and I thought I'd give CDs a try but that was also because they just stopped releasing music on cassette. In any event, Graham Repulski is on cassette and he should experienced as such for optimal enjoyment.
- Cassette Gods
It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if you cop Bob Pollard, as long as you do it right. I could end the review right there, because that’s as much as you need to know, I think. Do you like Bob Pollard? Good. Me too. Let’s hang out. Let’s listen to Graham Repulski.
Know why? Because Repulski has internalized the vibe of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes. I know, I know, anybody can record bedroom rock and roll onto a four-track and get away with a passing grade, but it takes chops and songwriting skills to make it really work. Repulski’s got those chops – he’s at once tuneful and inventive, harnessing the hiss and fidelity of his recording setup and working within those confines to churn out hit after hit. His songs are mostly brief, not overstaying their welcome at all, and in fact growing in palatability because of their brevity.
Huh. Sounds like some other musician I know.
Oh yeah! Bob Pollard.
That’s a good thing. While the comparisons are obvious, Repulski’s songs are just too goddamn good to matter. You’ll have an amazing time with Success Racist. Did I mention that title is amazing too? Right up the ol’ Bob Pollard naming convention alley. There it is again! Sorry.
Repulski is from Philly, so that’s different. I hope he’s down with the hometown nine – I could talk Phillies baseball all day.
Oh shit! Todd Tobias mastered this thing. Well, there you go.
- Auxiliary Out
This is a tape I've listened to (and enjoyed) a lot the past couple years but it's proven quite tricky to write about, alas the radio silence. Success Racist sounds EXACTLY like early Guided By Voices. I mean exactly--this is some Wolfgang Beltracci-level artistry. And, just to be clear, this is not a pejorative statement. The production, the hiss, it's spot on. But the truly beguiling quality of the whole affair is the songwriting. The entire history of rock & roll is founded on out and out theft, so hearing an artist heavily indebted to prior forerunners is an everyday occurrence. If I had a dollar for every time I discovered that a band I thought to have an "original" sound had been beat to it 20 or 30 years earlier... well, you know what I'd be. All that said, I've never heard someone inhabit another songwriter's skin so completely and so triumphantly. I mean the only real explanation is science-fiction. Clearly, through a series of strange, forbidden experiments, Repulski has re-animated the corpus or corpse (if yr into conspiracies) of Bob Pollard from half a million beers ago. If not more.
Even the lyrics are suspiciously on point, the kind of idiosyncratic nonsense I've become so invested in after hours and hours of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes despite never having a clue what the fuck Bob and Tobin are talking about. Case in point, my favorite track: "James Run". I have no idea what the "James Run" is or means, but man, when Repulski sings "Where did you go? Where did you go in the 'James Run?" I really feel it. I couldn't tell you why but I do. Over and over again. Or "Crying Machine Shakes at the Moon" which, I mean just look at the title. The money shot, "And counting backwards from suicide..." just pops up into my head from time to time. And that's the special thing about this, most of these songs can stand shoulder to shoulder with just about any from the classic GBV era. So many of these songs have carved little homes in my brain just like the GBV records that came before them.
Things do go a bit sideways at times, whenever I hear the opening notes of "Elevator Tricks" my brain automatically thinks I'm about to be hearing "The Ugly Vision" from Alien Lanes and then realizes it isn't. Don't know if this is really a bad thing but it is a disruption in an otherwise seamless listening experience.
This is the only Repulski tape I've heard so whether this is a life-long commitment or a one-album experiment, I don't know. But it is a success, that's for damn sure.
Oh and Graham, what's a "success racist"?