Hey Friends, It's ... Kelpie(Birthday Party Records)

Kelpie 

Hey Friends, It's ... Kelpie(Birthday Party Records)

Kelpie's second album, Hey Friends, It's ... Kelpie, is the first release from fledgling Birthday Party Records, a Lawrence label founded by Matt Morgus, whom you may remember from the lauded area metal band Salt the Earth. Labels — especially ones started by earnest but poor musicians — come and go like gophers in an old-school mallet-bopper arcade game. But Birthday Party, so named because it just needed a name, seems to have gotten off to a very good start. For publicity, Morgus has secured the Planetary Group (the Life and Times, Dropsonic) to get Kelpie on the radio. To help the band on the road, he's lined up the venerable Big Hassle (Kings of Leon, the Wallflowers, the Dears). It's also extremely fortuitous that Kelpie bassist Nate Harold and drummer John Momberg had recently stepped in for ex-Koufax rhythm section members Rob and Ryan Pope on that band's tour of Germany. Guess who's opening for Koufax in Hamburg and Dresden? Hint: It starts with a K.

So leading off with Kelpie should prove fairly successful for Birthday Party. Though not exactly a buxom stripper bursting out of a giant cake, Kelpie is the girl at the party, probably in horn-rimmed glasses with a low-maintenance ponytail, whom some will find unbearably hot and others will overlook. Hey Friends, in other words, is not an album for those who like hooks, melody, straight-from-the-heart lyrics or any sort of edge. Rather, it's a unique but somewhat inaccessible jam-punk combination, with more time changes in its 37 minutes and 14 songs than a crate full of '70s prog records and more Beach Boys-y vocals and obtuse guitar chordage than two hours of college radio in 1986.

It's all very cute — perhaps riskily so. There are blond-haired children in puffy '80s ski jackets on the cover, and some of the songs (and all of the lyrics) are intentionally misspelled in the liner notes. The words to "Ah Don-Task," for example, read Ah don-task uh bout-chatoes/Tha tone-meen tha-tie don-wan ta no. Translation: I don't ask about your toes/That don't mean that I don't want to know. OK, sure, yeah. But ... why? Is it because the words are so silly and meaningless that they're easier to sell in nonsensical packaging? Does this notion apply to the band as a whole?

We'll just have to leave it up to the Germans — they were right about the Beatles, after all.

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