The Thinking Fellers Union 
Local 282

A band every bit as good as their name isn't.
*special introductory paragraph!
*Wormed, By Leonard
*Mother Of All Saints
*Where's Officer Tuba EP
*Admonishing The Bishops EP
*The Funeral Pudding EP
*Strangers From The Universe
*Porcelain Entertaiments
*Everyday 7"
*I Hope It Lands
*Bob Dinners and Larry Noodles Present Tubby Turdner's Celebrity Avalanche
America and her dear Canadian neighbors to the south know that I hate to quote other critiquing sources, but I'll have small tacks inserted painfully into some guy at my work if I can come up with a better lead sentence than Mr. Alex Ross in the Spin Alternative Record Guide. Mr. Ross says the following: "If you think that rock music is doomed through all eternity to bang out a few basic chord progressions on guitars and drums, you should stay the hell away from the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, the reigning postpunk philosophers of San Francisco and environs." I really like the way he uses the word "hell" in the sentence. Good emphasis. Actually, the rest of his review is pretty good too, but I can't just reprint the whole thing verbatim here. That would be cheating, and I don't get paid to cheat! Samaddafaq, I don't get paid at all!!!! Mr. Ross continues, "TFUL owes debts to the moody Germanic textures of Can and Faust, the art-rock delirium of the Residents, and a fat guy in Los Angeles named Link Hamilton who lent them a potato once in '62." Who knows what the hell's angel Mr. Ross is talking about there? Steroids, anyone???

Point is - TFUL 282 are one of the most consistently innovative, thoughtful, and impressive bands in the world today in late '96. They have three incredibly talented and fluent guitarists who often switch back and forth between mandolin, banjo, double bass, or whatever other silly little non-electric-guitar-esque instruments they find around. They write songs by throwing unconnected melodies against each other and altering them until the result is a beautiful cacophony of wonder and joy, and they have a pretty fun and ironic little sense of good humor. They also (perhaps unfortunately, perhaps not) firmly believe that some of their finest work comes from jam sessions, so they include poorly-recorded little snippets of practice tapes masquerading as "actual songs" on most of their records. Don't worry, though. Don't! Life's too short!!!! You could have died fifteen minutes ago!!! Let things go!!!!! Their practice track music stuff is mostly pretty great and really doesn't need to be developed any further.

In recent years, they've calmed down their originally brash loud guitar attack to a moody and textured low-key mope pop gleam not unlike that of late-'60s Pink Floyd, but they're still writing some great songs. Much like late-60's Pink Floyd. Not sure why I put "but" in that last sentence; let's just chalk it up as "not giving a flying piece of horseradish whether the sentence needs to be there as long as it flows smoothly" and get on with our reviews, shant we? Wouldn't it be cool if I used a really unexpected obscenity right here? Yes, it most certainly would. Try it!

Wormed, By Leonard - Thwart Productions cassette 1988.
Rating = 8

Honestly, if this was anybody but the Thinking Fellers, I'd probably give it a 7, but knowing what I know about how friggin' good they would get even by the next year, I've no choice but to ignore the endless pointless instrumental noodlings that spot up the tape between the fiddlestickingly goose-bumping pop gems like "Hell Rules," "Narlus Spectre," and "Out In The Kitchen." Twenty tracks lengthy, with an extra six if you count the bonus tracks on the 1995 vinyl reissue, it definitely has way too much practice tape filler, but the actual SONGS are mostly pretty great.

They joke around a bit too much for my good, but when they let sleeping dogs lie and steal the flag from dreck like "Truck Drivin' Man," the goodness of their post-early-Sonic-Youth darkish guitar twangle is obvious, and you can't help but not doubt that they won't not become one of the least important yet but still not definitely unalteringly finest guitar-based combos trekking the cosmos, except for elsewhere. Fuck me up the ass, but not really because it would hurt!!!!! "Nipper" is funny but too long. "Motorin' Flarey Henderson" is a catchy little instrumental that would soon be developed into the classic "Sister Hell." And many other tracks are delightfully hissy! Don't buy this one first, but maybe go back later after you're a fan and look it up in your Funk & Wagnall's. Whatever happened to Wagnall, anyway? Is that even how you spell "Wagnall?" Or is it an "e" instead of a second "a"? Ahhh, who gives change to beggars, anyway?

Reader Comments (Debbie Whitwill)
Prindle-thanks for recognizing the amazing Fellers on your nice little page. A 9, I say, cause unlike many of the later examples of Feller Filler, the teensy inbetween tracks are hilarious! Sound sculptors, these fellers were (are?). Not to mention the octave-leaping electro-folk of "Hell Rules", and that song where the funny-sounding guitar sounds like a thunderstorm during the chorus! Name escapes, but its fantastic.

Sadly, TFUL are compared to Sonic Youth fairly frequently. This is a travesty. The main difference between them-and it's an important one-is TFUL's keen sense of humor. Where the Yoots will let one or two fairly interesting guitar tones run the length of a record (I'm thinking early stuff), the Fellers, from the start, made it a point to mess with their tones each time out. That's why the Feller Filler is there, to capture the goofiness when it happens.
Wormed by Leonard is a tough one to get into, but it slowly reveals its many rewards. "Out in the Kitchen" is a winner, as is the humorous canine drama of "Nipper". Apart from that, not many easy entry points for this one. It's already very intricate and accomplished (I would expect no less from these geniuses), but lacks the aggressive personality of later releases. That means it's a great album if you're willing to sit through it, while other albums MAKE you sit through it. Great stuff, but a tad tentative. I'll say 7/10.

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Tangle - Thwart 1989.
Rating = 8

Kicks ass! Not in a "kick ass" way, but definitely in a post-mid-period-Sonic-Youth way. The electric guitars are cranked up really loud in chimey ringing hypnotic clamor, and the hooks are sproutin' up all over! "Sister Hell" grooves and plops with a hilarious shouted refrain, "Change Your Mind" makes more weird left turns than the classic "Loose Lip Sync Ship" by The Hogs, and ahh hoo. All the other songs are good too, with the possible exception of "It Wasn't Me," which has kind of a dopey verse part.

I honestly don't have much to say about the record except that the melodies are really great and generally in your face, which is to say there's not much (if any) lo-fi noodling. Real listenable, occasionally a bit too silly (but who am I to talk? No, while we're here in this parenthese, let's take a look at this. What does the element of humor add to the Fellers' sound? On the up side, it keeps them from coming across as stuck up serious artists. On the down side, some of their joking around - dumb voices, mainly - is as irritating as the between-song patter on that live Monkees album. I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about. On the whole, I'm glad that they have a good sense of humor, because some of their little ditties, especially on Lovelyville, are hilarious! But sometimes it backfires and they sound like "Weird Al" Yankovic. That's all I'm saying.), but mostly a terrific outing that calls up that ages old dilemma - how come so many great albums are ignored by everybody in the world ever? Seriously. This is a great album, and maybe 500 people own it. Okay, I pulled that number out of my butt. No, not really! Nothing comes out of my butt, pal!!!!!

Reader Comments (Lucas Grzybowski)
I attended a TFUL282 show in Gainseville, FL about 2 years back, and it became (until I witnessed a WEEN show) the greatest performance I'd ever seen. At the show, I bought Tangle and thought, "Yeah, this is some great stuff." It isn't my favorite album of theirs, but I found your review of it "right on," except that I like "It wasn't me" (I like to scream along while I'm in the car, and that song accomodates me well).
Hotcha! You can tell this is going to be a fun album as soon as it starts with the catchy riff that kicks off "Sister Hell" - rightfully now a TFUL282 classic. There's plenty of madness on this album that really puts a smile on my face. Special kudos to "Change Your Mind", one of the funniest songs I've ever heard since "Who Killed Bambi". Brian's mid-song screams/rants have to be heard to be believed! 9/10.

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Lovelyville - Matador 1991.
Rating = 9

Wun weird wecord! Totally fun too, with the Thinkin' humor at an all-time eccentric peak, tossing out heated one-liner after heated one-liner like a fine Craig McMurtry showing from the mid-'80s (clearly the Braves's finest hour), all the while keeping the fi just as hi as fi can be, lou. If the warped cover of "Green Eyed Lady" doesn't make your eyebrows curve up in wonder, the veritable bonanza of hilarious teensy tracks near the end of side one ("Mother Uncle Delicious Tasty," "The Streets Vibrated With Traffic And Power Tools," "Mark My Words," and "Push") will bust your bottom dollar or my name's not Mark Prindle of Low-Maintenance Perennials anonymity.

This album takes a little getting used to - by this point, the roving gang of murderous bikers has moved way behind mere Sonic Youth impressionism, developing some truly bizarre musical ideas in the process, one of which appears to be "if it has a neat noise, it doesn't need a melody!" I concur. There are NOTHING but neat noises all up and down both sides of this record and one side of the CD. The seal noises in "More Glee," the Yes guitar break in "Nothing Solid," the offensively dissonant yet darling head melody in "Sinking Boats," the predictable yet somehow unceasingly disturbing stops and starts spread throughout the dark "Nail In The Head" - all this stuff will blow you away if you've progressed beyond that "classic rock" phase. It can definitely seem a bit unwelcoming at first (for example, a good pal of mine named Mister Matthew Terrebonne of Low-Maintenance Perennials failure excitedly borrowed the cassette from me after reading in the liner notes that they play "baritone, casio, viola, mandolin-guitar-harp, trombone, oboe, and clarinet," then returned it in a huff, exclaiming "It would have been nice had they actually bothered to play a MELODY with all those instruments!!!"), but repeated listens reveal what later will seem to you to be extremely enjoyable little guitar hooks.

Seriously - this is music. Good music. You'd believe me if you heard it. It's just, again, a bit eccentric, which is good! These guys (and gal) are really smart; why would they want to sound like somebody else?

Oooh! But be wary - the CD has a "bonus" section called "The Crowded Diaper" that is, without exception, the most worthless load of juvenile horsecrap this band has ever tried to make us sit through.

Reader Comments
As fun as prior releases were, this is the first TFUL282 album that really lets the consumer know that they're SERIOUS about music making. From tentative artsy beginnings (Wormed) to shocking avant rock (Tangle), the first two albums may have been impressive to most listeners, but primarily as a novelty. Nothing against those two albums, mind you - but in order to really be taken seriously playing something this "out-there" you've got to play it with absolute assurance and confidence. With "Lovelyville" they got a lot closer to that level of play.

Still lots of Feller Filler, but most of it is crammed around the end of the first half (just before "More Glee") so the rest of the album glows in complexity and strangeness. Some of their best ever songs are here - "Four O'Clocker 2", "More Glee", "Sinking Boats", and "Nail in the Head" - four examples of dizzyingly strange rock songs that make you embarrassed that you first got into this band because someone said they're like Sonic Youth. This is better! Much better!

As for "The Crowded Diaper", the progressive rock tour de force that ends the CD, well... I like it. Probably mainly because of the title though. And the "Maverick" portion ("Bitin off the heads of snails / Fare thee well Annabell") is just so stupid it's great.

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* Mother Of All Saints - Matador 1992. *
Rating = 10

With pretty much every album being phenomenal, it was difficult for me to decide on a "finest" Thinking Fellers album, but I ended up picking this one, as you've probably gathered by the happy little asterisks surrounding the album title. But the deal is this: if you try to treat this record as background music, you will despise it with every core of your being. To enjoy this record, you must set everything else aside and really pay attention to what's going on. "Why?" you ask? Because it sounds like it was recorded in a barn on a $5.00 Radio Shack tape recorder. Honestly - why they chose to record a bunch of complex, difficult songs in the muddiest manner possible is foreign to me, but that's exactly what they did, and, as such, it's your civic duty as a progressive music lover to lie back on your bed and allow the seventy or so minutes of sludgy drone pop and noise to wash over you and invite you to drown in its luxuriant death pillow.

And you just may! There are ugly loud noises every once in a while ("Tell Me" and "Tuning Notes" push it a little bit), but most of this glop will flow right over you. It's a mood, see. Make your room really dark, like six o'clock on a winter's eve. Not pitch black, but depressingly shadowy, you know. Then lie back on your pillow and listen to the melodies. After about forty-five minutes, you'll notice that the songs have become stupid little practice tapes, but by that point, it won't even matter, because "Gentlemen's Lament," "Hive," "Hummingbird In A Cube Of Ice," and "Infection" (and some of their little friends, too!) are amazingly moving little ditties. Again, this is definitely a mood record. If you wanna rock, play something else. This is a drab shadowy obscured by clouds pain in the ass to try to explain to your friends. But it's so good! Maybe smoke some reefer and try it out? I don't know. I use no illicit substances.

The point is that this stuff sounds like the work of a brilliant late-sixties experimental outfit that in time became legendary. Which is to say, of course, that The Thinking Fellers should be a heck of a lot more well-known than they actually are. They AREN'T just messing around! See them live some time and watch how lightning-fingered all their guitarists are! This isn't a joke! They are a phenomenal band. Phenomenally an anomaly. They've gone light years beyond Sonic Youth and come back to tell us all about it. Tell them thanks next time you see them.

Reader Comments (Matt S. MD)
Mother of all saints is the first TFUL282 album I owned and its also the first time I ever heard them. I bought it because of your review and because of the various good things I have heard about them. they are currently my favorite band. I agree with your review for the most part exept for the bit about "tell me". you make it sound as if it is "feller filler"(I am 313373 so I can use that term). Its a full song, it just doesn't sound that much like the rest of the album because it sounds like it would almost get played on the radio. "Star Trek" is a damn good instumental that you should have mentioned."catcher" is like "tell me" in the sense it might acually be popular on collage radio. my only complaint about this album other than "tell me" isn't that good is that its not really THAT big of an album.its not a full 70 minutes of music, it about 50 minutes off music and the rest are sometimes good and sometimes less than good filler.Plus the long track countdowns on the CD take up alot of space.This is still good original stuff though, and i really like violas."heroin" being one of the only VU songs a like and all. (Debbie Whitwill)
I'm not sure how they made "Gentleman's Lament" such a beautifully orchestrated piece of music through all the dissonance, but Anne's vocal sure helps. Anne's the star here. One listen to the beginning of "Hornet's Heart" and you'll understand.
This was my first introduction to Thinking Fellers Union and I loved it. Still haven't gotten around to their other releases, but I'm a music snob who listens to alot of varied music, and picking what music you want to get next is difficult (espescially considering if you're a moderately poor college kid). In any case, this is a great album, and it's easy to tell TFUL282 are an extremely unique and talented band that sound like no one else in existence. I would try to describe, but your reviews are mostly dead on (though I like "Tell Me" as well). Their sound is too ineffable. Very imaginative, creative, psychadelic stuff. Have listened to it while shrooming and while high, and that was a mind-expanding experience (despite your negative view of drugs, Mr. Prindle). I can only hope they swing my way when and if they decide to tour again. (I think I'll probably get Lovelyville next)
They sounded confident on Lovelyville, but here they're so advanced they're actually scary. This was my first TFUL282 album, and I recommend it as a great starting point. Not because it's especially accessible, but because it really illustrates better than any other release what a complete mammoth mindfuck this band could be. The structure and flow of this album is unparalleled: it starts with 8 or 9 of their most complex, beautiful, aggressive, varied songs they've ever done, and then it takes a sharp left turn into weirdsville with a looonnggg stretch of the best "Feller Filler" they've ever done, and then ends with a few mostly instrumental progressive tunes. Totally linear, disorienting, and really LONG. Let me point out some highlights from the three main sections of this wonderful album.

First part: Untouchable. "Hornet's Heart" has an amazing hook and wacky vocals. "Tell Me" sounds like a midtempo "sensitive" song until the last minute and a half or so, when it suddenly speeds up and delivers an absolutely kick-ass power chord riff that I wish I'd written first. "Gentleman's Lament" is a perfect album opener, highly melodic, compact, and full of countermelodies, harmonies, and detail.

Second part: Fucked Up. After the final chimes of the quiet "Infection" die away, this second part of the album abruptly kicks in with a (in this context) freaky laugh interspersed with taunting comments over a lo-fi nondescript rehearsal jam. This kind of thing continues in 1-2 minute doses for quite a while, hitting its peak with "Hosanna Loud Hosanna", which sounds like a rehearsal outtake from Trout Mast Replica, with it's distorted Beefheart-like bellowing over a rhythmic, comical riff. "Tuning Notes" certainly does its best to try your patience, nearly 5 minutes of spurts of guitar noise and random conversational snippets.

Third part: Cerebral. "Raymond H" is a wonderful progressive instrumental that lasts about 6 minutes, a virtual guitar clinic of the sort only TFUL282 could provide. "1 inch Tall" is droney and mostly instrumental. And "Cistern" is a good enough tune that they rerecorded it or their Bob Dinners album about 10 years later!

This album still doesn't get the 10 for me though.. I'll give it a 9.5/10. It's got some stiff competition among the TFUL282 catalogue. And it's better than 95% of the albums in my collection. (Jeff)

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for turning me on to the Thinking Fellers. After hearing Mother of All Saints, I will now be purchasing everything they've ever created. Keep up the good work.
The best album of all time.

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Where's Officer Tuba EP - Hemiola 1993
Rating = 7

I'm excited. It's almost the weekend! As The Moody Blues once sang, "Here comes the weekend!" And as Loverboy once sang, "Everybody's workin' for the weekend!" And as the Dead Kennedys once sang, "Winnebago warrior!" But I can't get to the weekend until I review this slapdash Blinking Yellers Funion Vocal Screw-Eighty-Screw EP. So let's do it! Together! With WORDS!

First though, I want to share with you a very brief anecdote that my friend Ed told me. Apparently Ed went to see the Rolling Stones on their Steel Wheels tour back in 89/90, and at one point lead vocalist Mick Jagger asked the crowd, "Do you like the new songs?" Apparently a roar of disapproval (or at least lethargy) flooded the stadium, driving a bewildered Mr. Jagger to utter this now-legendary piece of mindbending logic:

"Well, without new songs, we couldn't have old songs."

Where's Officer Tuba was a 1988 Hong Kong supernatural crime comedy about a fainthearted cop who prefers to play in the brass section of the police band to pounding the streets. It's therefore no wonder the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 chose to pay tribute to the film with a stupid, worthless EP combining three Mother Of All Saints tracks with four pieces of studio jerkoffery and a Caroliner cover formerly available on 7".

The grade of 7 is testament to the fact that "Hive" ('probably armed with sting...'), "Gentleman's Lament" ('Jane, all I want are some horsies!') and "Wide Forehead" (can't make out any of the lyrics) are astonishingly well-written, evocative, multi-parted works of creative inspiration. But see, these are the exact same versions that already appeared on Mother Of All Saints. And if you don't already own Mother Of All Saints -- BUY IT!!!! You don't need a three-song sampler of it, for Christ's sake - it's an incredible album! BUY IT!

Okay, so let's assume you just bought Mother Of All Saints. Well, that automatically renders the three best songs on Where's Officer Tuba redundant, bringing its grade down from 7 to 5. And a 5 ain't nothin' to brag about, my brother. I think I even gave Linkin Park one of those.

Furthermore, let's assume you're a huge Thinking Fellers fan who owns a turntable. If such is the case, you surely already own the Sun City Girls/Thinking Fellers split-single that features each band performing a Caroliner cover. If not, I should tell you that TFUL282's "Outhouse Of The Pryeeee" digs out the hidden melody of the original and turns it into a ramshackling singalongable piece of terrific oddness. It's a fantastic cover that actually improves upon the over-noisy original. But you know that, because you just ordered it on ebay at my suggestion and it's already shown up (you read slow). As such, Where's Officer Tuba has been reduced to four pieces of Feller filler and an embarrassing grade of 4.

Now don't get all anger-filled. Some of the band's rehearsal noise sounds great, particularly the musical snippets they chose to include on Mother Of All Sain.... But three of these four selections just seem to have been arbitrarily pulled off a rehearsal tape by Marlee Matlin and immediately pressed onto the vinyl. What are we supposed to hear in "282 Years"? Some skrinking and amp static? How's that going to win over today's top musical critics? And what about "Heaven For Real Idiots," which is just the similarly-named Mo.... track but WITHOUT THE MELODY!? How's that going to top the Billboard Alt-Rock charts for 11 weeks and running? And what about "Strolling Big Butter," a walking bass jazz tune that finds a grinding noise holding down the fort while riffs, hooks and melody go out in the yard to catch lightning bugs? How's that going to change the world like "Smells Like Team Spirit" did? "I Am Beautiful, I Am Good" has some great notey guitar lines though and should have been turned into a full song for sure. How's that going to - oh.

So there's your review. A perfect review for a perfect album. Don't miss it!

Now then, on to more pressing matters. Assuming you haven't been living in a yard sale for the past ten years, you're probably aware that the United 93 film is coming out this weekend. I urge all of you to go out and see it, because it represents one of the very, very rare occasions in today's politically correct environment in which a maverick filmmaker and his group of young actors have gotten together, weathered the winds of national controversy and industry disapproval, and created a movie that wasn't a remake or sequel.

If it's all sold out though, check out Scary Movie 4 or Ice Age: The Meltdown - they're supposed to be awesome.

(I'm assuming of course that you've already seen The Shaggy Dog, The Hills Have Eyes, When A Stranger Calls, Basic Instinct 2 and Big Momma's House 2)

Actually fuck it. Don't blow your wad on Untied 83 when you have to save up for Mission: Impossible III, Poseidon, X-Men: The Last Stand, Superman Returns, Indiana Jones 4, Spider-Man 3, Saw III, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Casino Royale, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Charlotte's Web, The Fast and the Furious III: Tokyo Drift, Clerks II, The Omen, Garfield's A Tale of Two Kitties, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, The Grudge II, Black Christmas, The Santa Clause, Die Hard 4.0, Fletch Won, Jurassic Park 4, Rush Hour 3 and Terminator 4.

But then again... I suppose United 93 IS a remake, in that they're remaking the true story into one where the plane doesn't get shot down by an American missile. ZING!

I love to zing people with references to really, really old conspiracy theories.

(The snake who gave Eve the apple was a patsy for wealthy banana-oil industrialists. ZING!)

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Admonishing The Bishops EP - Matador 1993.
Rating = 9

Four fine songs with no horseplay at all. Probably a response to all them whiners who moped about all the piddly-diddly that crammed up the last half-hour of the previous opus. But great! One's a hoedown about dying, one's a beautiful dreamy love-ish song with one particularly ugly guitar chord thrown in each time around, one's a super dark mood rocker that turns into another hoedown right near the end, and the fourth, or third if you're going in chronological order like some kinda flapjack, is an awfully serious-sounding little adult pop song about drinking or desire or some crap. The melodies are new and brisk and alive like a warm summer's eve douche. And it's produced worth a poop too!
Reader Comments
The reason this EP gets a nine, is because you are only willing to give one album a ten. Doing that makes sense - I'll give you that - but folks, don't be fooled. This is an absolutely perfect little record.

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The Funeral Pudding EP - Ajax 1993.
Rating = 8

All the practice tapes that were missing from the other extended play record are here, along with another four great actual songs. And I mean GREAT!!!! If you miss the thought processes that went into producing the fine early to mid-period work of a band like Yes, then give these guys a whirl. The swirly scratching "23 Kings Crossing" will blow your mind, the heavily-drummed "Waited Too Long" will wet your whistle, the spy film instrumental "Flames Up" will get your goat, and the Unrest-ish pop song "Heavy Head" will milk your coffee, leaving five tracks of dicking around to kiss your wife.

Let me point out once again that "dicking around" is not necessarily a bad thing, especially for a band as naturally filled to the brim as these fellows and gal, but the little snippets on this one, aside from the groovy enough but WAY TOO LONG jam session "Give Me Back My Golden Arm," seem particularly uninspired and unnecessary. Oh well. At least they're short!

Reader Comments (Mike)
I just want to say that the only resemblance "Heavy Head" has to an Unrest song is its repetiveness. Unrest would have never embellished their songs with pleasant strings and the eletric banjo,etc.

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Strangers From The Universe - Matador 1994.
Rating = 9

More of the same. Isn't it sad when a band starts to seem dull simply because they're SO predictably impressive? When every single record is topnotch, how can each new release continue to impress? That was the conundrum I had with this baby when it came out. I already knew they were amazing, so all I could really say was "Well, they're still great!" and set the CD aside for later enjoyment. So what can I say about this one? It's similar to the last two EPs - real poppy without getting loud and ruckusy, and still full of titled lo-fi noodlings, with some really impressive weird breaks thrown in in thumbs uppers like "Hundreds Of Years," "Cup Of Dreams," and "February." Awesome album.

I wish I could think of more to say that I haven't already said, but why bother? This has got some hoppin' accessible tracks you can share with your pappy ("My Pal The Tortoise" and "Socket" are probably my number one gal's fave Thinker tracks ever!) as well as some mucked up mood bits that you smoke the reef with if you're another of those fucking worthless burnout pieces of human garbage that's giving our generation a bad name. And "Noble Experiment" is a beautiful lullaby celebrating the end of the human race! Golly. I'm listening to this record right now and am yet again flabbergasted by the amazing number of terrific new musical ideas that this band comes up with every year. Why aren't they enormously popular yet, goddammit????? 'Cause they're not generic enough to be on MTV????

Say, did I mention that they have four different lead singers? Maybe I should have mentioned that earlier.

Reader Comments
A perfect album! I can say without reservation: 10 out of 10. Every song on here is flawless, moving, intelligent, and among their best ever material. And on top of that, this is also the album that your girlfriend is most likely to enjoy too! How can you not smile when "My Pal the Tortoise" chugs along amiably? And doesn't "Cup of Dreams" kinda resemble a good shoegazer indie-pop song? Yes, there are more easy entry points on this album than usual. It's even got a pretty pink cover with nice tasteful artwork on it!

Underneath the friendly veneer, however, this album throws more than its share of curveballs. Virtually every track has some weird twist and/or turn that reminds you you're not listening to Yo La Tengo. "Socket" was almost an indie hit, and has a catchy hook during the verses, but the instrumental mid-section is jarring, sicko guitar spasms! "Hundreds of Years" is quiet and lovely, but interspersed throughout the verses is a sudden loud and dissonant guitar/drum riff. "The Operation" doesn't have anything jarringly strange inside; the whole damn song itself is just twisted and scary! "My Pal the Tortoise" is a catchy pop song, despite its use of an extremely dissonant guitar part as its main hook! And ironically, perhaps one of the best songs here is the one with no special tricks at all: the emotionally charged but laid-back "Piston and the Shaft". The chorus to this song is so beautiful, I just wanna crap my pants. Oh yeah, and there's a few "Feller Filler" tracks here, but they don't add or subtract anything from the album. They just give you an occasional minute or so every now and then to reflect and say to yourself, "Shit, that last song was amazing!"

Dan Brookes
'Cup of Dreams', 'The Piston and The Shaft' and 'Socket' are some of my favourite songs ever and if the rest of the record was as super-high quality as this, then it'd get a ten without any reservation. As it is, the rest of the album is simply 'very good'. I love how (please forgive me if I sound like some kind of snooty critic here) anti-instinctual they can be, how you don't see certain breaks or changes coming along, but when they do, wow! I also like how they don't try too hard to be self-consciously 'unusual'; it's the music of a band who are pretty familiar with the fact that the songs are pretty unconventional enough to not require any kind of novelty or gimmick.

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Porcelain Entertainments - Return to Sender 1995.
Rating = 8

I just bought this for my friend Christian for Xmas, so if you see him, don't tell him, okay? If this is, as it claims, "a limited edition of 2,000 copies," I'm pretty frikkin' lucky to have found a copy, aren't I? Granted, it's their weakest release and there's no reason at all for me to have given it an 8 considering that it's mostly just filler and solo tracks, but hey! They're FUN noisy bits and solo tunes! And it's nice to hear what each member contributes to the overall project. And it has a few live tunes (including a STRAIGHT rendition of "Green Eyed Lady"!). What the hell - take all the TFUL you can get - even if it's kinda half-assed.

Reader Comments (Debbie Whitwill)
One the same tip, Brian Hageman's solo record "Twin Smooth Snouts" is worth checking out. Similar to this record, nothing's spectacular, but he's a unique talent in himself.

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Everyday 7" - Amarillo 1995.
Rating = 8

So back in 1994 or '95, I'm at this Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 show at a club in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. And they start playing some crazy long spaghetti western thing. I had never heard it, not being one to listen to a lot of spaghetti western music. Sure, I know your "Bonanza" and "Rawhide" and "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," but this song had a lot more parts and just wasn't familiar to me at all. I figured it was a cover, but I didn't know what of. The song ended and I saw Franz, who made a career out of listening to crazy wild "noise" music and reading Bananafish, smiling broadly and applauding. I leaned in and said, "What was that?" Looking a bit surprised that I wouldn't be able to recognize such a standard, he replied, "Ennio Morricone - A Fistful of Dollars."

That's the b-side of this single. It's good! Side A is "Everyday," a bouncy little near-novelty song with a great bass line that goes down and up and down and up while a trombone toots and both a man and a woman recite vocals.

Later in the concert, we all had a great laugh as the Thinking Fellers did a WONDERFUL rendition of the Beatles' "I Dig A Pony." When it ended, we were all smiling broadly and applauding. Suddenly, Franz turned around with a furrowed brow and asked, "What was that?"

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I Hope It Lands - Communion 1995.
Rating = 8

Generally in the music biz, age brings with it some really lackluster musical ideas. As such, I feared that, after seven years of toiling in the underground, my beloved Fellers may have run out of melodies. And truth be told, this album is a little lighter in the 'masterpiece' department than their previous few records. But it's still an interesting collection of oddball clumphity-dumphity rock songs incorporating folksy instruments. Don't be fooled by the sixteen song titles listed on the cover, though - about half of 'em are flippity little instrumentals. But oooh, what CATCHY little instrumentals!

The actual songs are still mostly low-key and moody, with the uproariously happy "Cuckoo At The World" breaking the spell at a key point near the beginning of side two. Elsewhere, "A Lamb's Lullaby" is about Jesus and kicks ass, "Triple X" is beautiful and headachey and goes on forever and ever lovily, and "Elgin Miller" is better than a puddle of wet gum.

Reader Comments (Thomas O. Huber)
you were right.... they kick ass. just got i hope it lands from cumminion. great record! The future of rock? i hope so. Thanks for the tip. (Carson Hoozestol)
I started out with Strangers from the Universe. Cool record. Recently I bought I Hope It Lands and was pretty much BLOWN AWAY within the first 3 seconds of track 2 ("A Lamb's Lullaby?") From there until track 17 I was captivated. Generally I enjoy the moodier, more melancholy Fellers side displayed on "Noble Experiment", "Cup Of Dreams", "Socket", and a slew off of I Hope It Lands (don't know the names yet). I'm going to search for Mother Of All Saints. Also I would like to compliment you on this fine site. Letting fans write in must get annoying but it's well worth it. I love the little fan bits that accompany your reviews. You go in depth about the bands and cover many that go unheard. Three cheers for Mr. Prindle. (Steve Whitwill)
The Fellers are the greatest band on this planet at this moment, simply put. You have never heard a band which sounds remotely like the Fellers, and you doubtful ever will. The Fellers are the only band in the universe that you can say are incredibly stupid and inconceivably beautiful at the same time. Their brand of complicated, structured cacophony is without peer. Please find their records and listen to them. In ten-fifteen years, when asshole critics everywhere finally discover these records and spurn the Fellers revival (see Velvet Underground and Big Star), this music will finally be recognized for the insane beauty which it contains. Listen to Prindle, folks. He was dreadfully wrong about Where You Been by Dinosaur Jr, but he is right on target here. (Adam Baer)
I'd be disappointed but bad if such a fantastic album as I Hope it Lands were TFUL's last. When they were in NY last year, they had no plans to record. Anyone have any current info?Thanks.
HITTING ... THE ... PIPE ...
Polvo, dismemberment plan, dirty three, tortoise, sonic youth, shudder to think, tful282, 12RODS, tom waits, vic chesnutt, kristin hersh, and mark eitzel are, in my humble opinion, among the most important artists of the past 20 or 30 years. 2 christmases ago i was astounded to have found the band which i believe may be the single most profound influence on TFUL. My roommate gave me a copy of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band's Trout-Mask Replica. This is where that strange beauty began. Everyone should buy it. EVERYONE. (Beth Sloop)
true believers rejoice. we stand only months away from the first new release by the fellers in 5 yrs. i've heard live versions of three tracks (check their official website if you want to hear it too, from a live chicago show 1/00) and they stand poised to assert their dominance upon the world. now we can only hope for a tour. by the way, mark prindle do you ever revisit this site? this is mr sloop saying hello. (Buddy Stafford)
the new thinking fellers album, titled bob dinners and larry noodles present tubby turdners's celebrity avalance is out now on communion. not only is it my new favorite tful282 album, it is the current front runner IMHO for album of the year. prindle, review it soon fore someone else beats you to it!

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Bob Dinners and Larry Noodles present Tubby Turdner's Celebrity Avalanche - Communion 2001.
Rating = 9

I intended to hate this album, or at least be extremely disinterested in it, and did everything in my power to make this occur (trying to become acquainted to it while suffering from severe flu-like symptoms which rendered me negative about everything, developing a nasty reaction to it immediately because of the first couple of songs' "indie rock"-like qualities, convincing myself that the Thinking Fellers were just a "college whim" for me that I had outgrown), but it's too brilliant. It's not perfect and it sure isn't SOOTHING terribly often, but it's just smart as a whip and really entertaining. As an entertainment product should be, I feel. At least, that's my opinion of an entertainment product.

The reason that the record succeeds so handily is that, regardless of their time apart, the band has come back together and presented a near-prefect synopsis of everything that you've always loved and hated about them. They throw in little 10-second snippets of stupidity and give them song titles (and boy is "Birth Of A Rock Song" hilarious - Just listen at them Thinkers having a laugh at rock and roll's expense! Musical humor at its mothers finest!). They use stupid voices (the high-pitched moron cry of "In The Stars I Can Sizzle Like A Battery" will either make you laugh your head (toilet) off or completely ruin the violently dissonant smudgsh of the guitar interplay for you). They completely restructure songs right in the middle without giving the listener any indication that the same track is still taking place. They shift rudely back and forth between massive blasts of noise and gentle guitarwork played so delicately, you have to turn your stereo up 59-billion notches to make sure the 9-volt battery inside hasn't passed away like a thief in the night, or at a different time of day. They pen lyrics alternating between insane stream-of-consciousness jibberishness and straightforward sketches of various unseemly characters (a sniper, a cannibal, an advertising spokesperson). And overall, they set you up with the expectation that you'll be listening to something like a normal-esque high-energy rock record, then proceed to screw with your brain with an odd collection of coldies, darkies, jokeys, loudies, shorties, longies, noisies, pretties, funkies, rockies, soothies, jazzies and complexies, with the only unifying glue being that of nonstop impressive instrumental interplay.

Speaking of which, have you gotten their new album? It's fantastic! At first I hated it, because it starts off with two REALLY indie rock-sounding songs (though further listenings show them to be skewed-out-the-ass indie rock songs), but after that it's just total weirdness til the album ends. Just an utterly, predictably fantastically entertaining, smart work by a band that I should have known couldn't let me down.

Reader Comments
Not to make all you fans out there tear your hair, but I just returned from the first TFUL282 show in three years, one of only two that they are playing (Portland and San Francisco). They did a complete career overview (even "Sister Hell"!) but only played "Sno Cone" off of this record. They were absolutely perfect in every way, with especially mind-boggling versions of "Brains", "Hive", "Nothing Solid", and "February". The crowd was rabid and ecstatic, Portland was always very into them. Let's hope they grace us with their presence some more in the future.

This record? I love it. Just like all of them. Well worth your time and money, dear reader.
Now THIS was a pleasant surprise! One of their very best albums, right outta nowhere, after they were supposed to be dead/washed up/broken up, wherever the hell they'd been for 5 odd years. I confess that "I Hope It Lands" never really grew on me, so when I heard of a new TFUL album in 2001, I wasn't all gung-ho about buying it. And then when I actually did buy it, I wasn't gung ho about listening to it right away. But finally I got my head out of my ass and listened to it - and it's GREAT! "Sno Cone" and "Holy Ghost" are two of the best songs they've ever written, and the rest is consistently good to great. The filler tracks are a lot of fun too - not just guitar jams this time, but strange stylistic experiments, if you will: "Boob Feeler" (great title) gets a nifty dance beat going, and "You Will Be Eliminated" lasts just a second or two longer than it takes to say the title. I'll give this a 9/10, my third favorite album of theirs (behind Strangers From the Universe and Mother of All Saints, but ahead of Lovelyville). (Trevor e.y.)
I just stumbled across your thinking fellers reviews for the frist time, nice work man. I really have been wanting to get into them for sometime. Do you like Piero Scaruffi a lot? You and he seem to have similar tastes, and I love his site. I was just wondering if you were also a fan.

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