Drunken Boat

Sure beats a "Shrunken Scrote!" Heh heh. EH heh heh!

Hee! Hee HA hee! Ha!a!a!a!a!a-OOF

(*funny bone breaks in two, necessitating trip to the hospital*)

*special introductory paragraph!
*Drunken Boat
*New Pop EP
*See Ruby Falls
*Dressy Hat

Drunken Boat is a poem featuring the word "vomit" that was penned by famous gay artiste Arthur Rimbaud in 1871. In the late 1980s, it decided to form a band in New York City with Mickey Dolenz-sounding wordsmith/voicepiece Todd Colby and some musicians of various personages. They released three albums during their lifespan: a good one, one of the greatest goddamned albums I've ever heard in my life, and a pretty bad one. Now they're gone away. As each of their albums sound different from the others, that's all I'll say in the intro.

Oh, except Howdy-Do! (Sorry I forgot to say howdy-do right from the get-go. Howdy-do!)


Drunken Boat First Warning 1990
Rating = 7

Hey look, I know you're probably here to read about Drunken Boat and I suppose in a sense I can sort of respect that, but before we continue I absolutely MUST tell you about this incredible idea I had for a scary tv show. I know that scary tv shows have seen better days, such as when Darkroom frightened a nation to its literal deathbed so many years past hence, but I feel I've just the idea to spark a fire and ignite the world to the rebirthed joys of this experiential tableau.

The idea occurred to me yesterday when I was in the head at work removing some shit from the inside of my body. As my eyes scanned the towering wall separating my stall from the one next to me, I became fixated on the space between the top of the wall and the ceiling fans. Granted, the ceilings are about ten feet high so the space was no big deal, but... what if it WERE? Here's my idea: a show about a guy so tall that even when he's SITTING on the toilet, he's tall enough to peek over the wall. What do you think? Have you started etching my name into that Emmy yet? Every week, this guy (who would have no name and would never speak) would show up at a different office or place of business and torment people by sitting in the stall next to them and peeking over the wall. What would he see? An act of self-enjoyability? A fetishist sniffing the intestinal green mucus in his tissue? Who knows? It could be ANYTHING. And that's what makes it so scary. And that's the secret to why I'm a genius.

For their debut, the five-piece Drunken Boat put themselves forward as a conglomeration of Fall-esque guitar jaggedness, Sonic Youth noisemaking, No Wave rhythmic locks, alternative college rock chord sequences and peaceful hippy mood music, all topped by the verbal salad of an energetic, overly passionate, weird, funny, strange, oddball young singer who sounds exactly like Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees -- except when he's being erotic. During these moments (especially in "Spin Around," when he declares himself to be a "farmer's daughter" and asks the listener to "come out in the shed"), it's difficult to tell whether he's a boy or a girl -- and with a sexually ambiguous name like "Todd," who can blame my confusables?

Although it's overall a fairly diverse record, the main glut of tracks on here are built around a chiming guitar, pulsating bass and rolling drum all locking together into one tight, seamless, clean unit of simple repetitive rock drone and/or attack. Its spotless simplicity is reminiscent of Unrest, but Drunken Boat's take on it is much more agitated, with sicker chords and the nervous energy of the singer adding to the edgy feel. Over the course of the CD, there are unfortunately probably one or two too many similar tracks in this vein. The approach is mindblowing in "Tragic Hands" ("I! Hate! This! City! Fuck. My. Mind."), still exciting in "Skull Crusher," wearing a bit thin but still hangin' on in "Shit Suit," and by the time "Stacko" repeats the same goddamned formula for the 700th thousandth time (or fourth, depending on your choice of counting methods), you're all like "Shut up, l-hole!" So that's a third of the album doing that stuff. That stuff there.

The other eighth of the album throws the loop of collegiate Americana life all 'round the psyche of your highway, ranging from catchy fuzzy pop and gorgeous acoustic strummery ("Uniform Gold" is so beautiful, don't even ASK me how beautiful it is because I'm incapable of calling up the verbiage to even begin to describe it. Except to say it only has like three chords.) to dreamy guitar tapping to dramatic Velvet Underground/Fall brooding bass-driven pump-drive repetition to "I'm A Man" with lyrics about an evil pony ("Goddamn! Fuckin' pony!") and back again! Add to this "brewy head" a couple pieces of pure hippy grass-smokin' love music, some broad talking about her dream, and a GREAT cover of the GREAT Husker Du song "What's Goin' On," and you've got a darn fine debut LP here!

As I look over the track listing, I'm tempted to consider giving the album an 8 instead of a 7 (especially considering how much I love the witty, welcoming vocals of Mr. Colby), but there are just a few things that are holding me back. The songwriting seems too SIMPLE, for one thing. I mean, I love the locked-tight skrankle stuff they do, but they certainly don't need to pull the same exact trick FOUR times on one record. Plus, the longer numbers ("Home," "Jubilee" and "Spin Around") would all make fantastic three-minute songs, but extending them to 5 1/2 minutes each just makes it too obvious how little is actually going on. A neat bass line or pretty little guitar change just isn't enough to support an entire twelfth of an hour.

Still, odds are that if you find this disc in your local used CD store (it has bright pink and yellow flowers on the cover and the band's name written in cursive), it's going to be in the cheapy bin, so do definitely pick it up. It's good! And with any luck, you'll be like the rest of the world and have NO GODDAMNED CLUE what the hell the singer is "on about"! Here, let's enjoy some of Todd Colby's lyrics together:

"A BODY BAG! GET ON! THE TABLE!" "YOU CAN KEEP YOUR TAPE - SATE! YOU CAN KEEP YOUR SATE! SATE!" "He came home and he was mad. He came home and he was really, really mad!" "Ca... Cable car..." "Uniform gold is the perfect color. Uniform gold is the perfect color. But I don't wanna talk about it; I don't even want to complain. I don't want -- to talk about it."

Whatever, Todd! You just go ahead and do whatever makes you feel better. Okay, sugarplum? Okay?

Add your thoughts?


New Pop EP - First Warning 1991
Rating = 8

That's silly, boats don't - they don't get drunk. Boats don't have mouths! Here's a joke about it:

Q: What did the boat say to the lighthouse?
A: Nothing, silly! Boats can't talk!
Q: This one can.
A: Oh.

Drunken Boat has replaced their rhythm section and, though still a little stuck in their early original amateurish/goofyish sound, are well on their way to the sonic wonder and orel beauty of See Ruby Falls (she left Johnny Cash and became a prostitute - SPOILER ALERT JUST NOW!) The title track is from the debut, but the other four tracks are brand gnu! They're also pretty varied as far as four songs go, so let me describe each one for you in minute detail. Then you can record and release your own copy of the EP based on my notes, and we ALL save! Here we go:

"Shut Up" if you think I'm going to tell you the name of track two! It features the bass line from the Dead Kennedys' "Forward To Death," topped with 60sy rockin' guitar licks and whammy bar noise. Cute but unnecessary. Here's the gag: The song itself is CALLED "Shut Up"!!!!!

"Hogwash" is what I say to you if you think I'm gonna tell you the name of track three! This one (which I will NOT name) is built upon weird, wrong jangle splatches, tight stops and a refreshing waft of two big warm triumphant chords and back. It's a great song -- and that's no "Hogwash"!!! (The song is called "Hogwash"!)

"Rabbit" is the test you should take if we just had sex and you think I'm gonna tell you the name of track four!!!! This track is a clear, obvious foretelling of the hypnotic See Ruby Falls gusto: two mystical eastern chords with beautiful ringing guitar tone for two minutes, followed by a shift to a beautiful, repetitive and endless arpeggiated note and strum chord wash. Simple but sonically lovely. Probably too long though (as your husband said to me last night!!!)!

What's hilarious is that you probably think the fifth track, "Salad Days," is a Minor Threat cover. Drunken Boat is/are many creative things, but a cover band is NOT one of them. Listen to this charmingly basic guitar hook and beautiful trumpet melody. It's obviously too lovely and idiosyncratic to be a Minor Threat cover! Get your ass out your head! "Salad Days" is a true blue Young Marble Giants original.

You know how swingers in the '70s used to say "Your place or mine?" Well, I've come up with a new take on that old line, just perfect for these nervous, edgy War On Terrorism times. You ready? Here it is:

"Your place mined?"

Oh! A warning - it's not funny, so read it as a drama, or Jay Leno monologue.

Drunken Boat. Dunken Broat. Dunkin Donuts. Three great tastes, one simple man.

I can't just end it there. Hey! Watch your local listings for a Motorhead album review sidebar by Mark Prindle in an upcoming issue of Maxim UK! Assuming I write it and they don't reject it! Also watch for me on your television as "The President of the United States"! Assuming I get nominated and elected!

Add your thoughts?


* See Ruby Falls First Warning 1992 *
Rating = 10

Celebrity Poker? I hardly celebrity KNOW her!!!

There must be a reason for my constant fatigue. Why is it so hard for me to get out of bed in the morning? Is it the pills? The caffeine? The weather? The job? The amount of sleep? I feel like a zombie. Not only am I eating everyone's brain, but I'm really tired too. I overslept a full hour this morning and even then barely managed to drag myself out of bed and over to the washing machine. My eyelids are drooping, my shoulders are hunched, my breath is slow and wheezy, my heart rate has dropped to 1/hr, and my fingers each feel like they weigh 40 or 50 pounds. Why is this? I want McDonald's for lunch but it's only 11:30 AM. Granted they start serving lunch at 10:30 because they're out of their minds but I don't eat that early. I don't need no early worm special. Hey, the CD just ended; let me switch it. I was listening to Charles Manson. He said to kill everybody so I did. Supposedly he's recorded some music too. Let me switch out this Other Half CD I was listening to, by The Other Half. It's such an effort to lift my eyebrows really high up on my forehead so my eyes won't close. You see, when your eyes are closed, you fall asleep. It's medically impossible to be awake while your eyes are closed. Try it and you'll see what I mean. Penis penis penis today. Penis tomorrow, did you hear what I say? There, did you try? And while your eyes were closed, did you see me singing the penis song on your screen? No, right? That's because you were asleep.

Okay now I've got Ozzy Osbourne's Down To Earth playing. A perfect soundtrack for my See Ruby Falls review. You know what's cool about Ozzy Osbourne? He had it all - sex, wine, a top-selling TV sitcom - and he threw it all away to join Black Sabbath. You gotta respect a guy who does that, just like you gotta respect William Shatner for following up his 2004 Washed Up CD with the short-lived television series Star Trek. You see, I study history using golf rules. It's just another way I set myself apart from the common man. The borgaeiou. Or should I say "BORE-gaeiou"? Sometimes; why?

"I'm not the anti-Christ or the Iron Man"? That's a dumb lyric. Maybe Ozzy should go back to his sitcom about the fat teenagers and the cancer wife. It's hilarious, and we all laugh at it here at the dead person store.

Drunken Boat's See Ruby Falls is somehow against all odds one of the greatest CDs of the '90s. fffffffffffffffffffffffff <--- most people would have done that on purpose, but I seriously didn't mean to. I actually began to fall asleep right here at the keyboard! Maybe I put too much hemlock on my cereal this mornign?? "Hay! You're under arrest for hate spech!" Hate spech? What hate speh? "MorNIGn." That was a typo! "Oh." But I aWOPoloKIKEze for any misunderstandjiggaboos I may have caused, Officer. "That's okay, Mr. Prindle. I'll just get back to polishing your knob while you caress my wife's knockers." That sounds fine. I'm glad we could meet here at the door fixtures swap meet to discuss this topic. "Yes."

Say! Did I mention that I'm at work right now? Earning money? Working hard?

Preface out of the way, let's get to See Ruby Falls. apparently Drunken Boat's guitarists have been taking lessons or sucking in new influences because CD #2 is about fitty times more colorful, fully-developed, ear-nourishing, and godblessedly BEAUTIFUL than the first one. Before you get worried and bend over at the waist, let me stress that they're still playing lots of atonal rhythmic lockjaw tunes; however, the ones on THIS CD aren't similar to each other at all, and are furthermore not ruined by Sonic Youthy noise attacks in the middle. But the real kick-in-the-hand is the addition of four or five gentle, swaying, and GORGEOUS guitar pop/rock flyaways, full of warm feelings, breezy Sundays, and hooks to Blue Monday. It's as if the band from the first record opened up its doors and let in a big colorful friendly kite, inspiring them to find the inner peace, love and forgiveness that Jesus Christ my dick itches! One second.

Oh I see, I had it dipped in the starch. But it's not like See Ruby Falls is some sissyass wussy folk music album or anything. It's just that in ADDITION to being a great, fun, locked-groove collection of jagged, uptempo post-punk rock, it also features some heartbreakingly gorgeous melodic compositions. It's like just when you think guitar music can't get any more beautiful, it does and does and does again! From the pretty arpeggiations, exhausted strumming and slinky slither bass line of "Day Long Day" to the several-noted genius and hypnotic ringing coda of "Shuffle" to the soft evocative ambience of "Balloon Song" to the absolutely most beautiful lead guitar line ever written of "Timidity" to the opium-drenched steel guitar runs of "A Gift," this CD succeeds where most bands don't even bother trying to go: creating clean, neat, tight, modern guitar music that could make the most sexist man in the world cry and enjoy wearing a dress.

No, I'm not sure what I meant by that either. I guess just that this soothing, intelligent music has in its palm the balm to calm a troubled soul. Especially when completed by the friendly delivery and eminently singalongable lyrical hooks of Mr. Singer Guy. "I am leaving/I waited all day/I am dreaming/I waited for you." "Take me away, take it up, take it up take me-e-e/Shake me awake shake it up shake it up shake me!" "Take it take it take it take it take it today/Take it take it all away" You know, they look pretty dumb now that I've typed them in like that, but wait til you hear him SING 'em!!!

But as I stated much much, hell DAYS earlier, there are also plenty of true rockers on here to keep the CD from being a complete rest-fest. Why, there's your Unrest-styled two-chord loud fuzzies of "Pool" ("We've got nothing to say - WE'LL SAY IT!"), the awesome uptempo Fall-style driving mancabilly one-note car ride ACTION music of "Go Driving" ("Nail it to my rib!"), the even more uptempo skrankly-crankly herky-jerky anxiety (but with disarmingly hypnotic harmonics breaks and a wild-as-shit buzzsaw lawnmower middle-eight) "Yard" ("This is Gertrude Stein - Stuck out in the yard. I think we'd better stop!"), the brain-searing nine-minute white noise celebration "Flat Land," and the oddest track of all, "Dream Wagon," which features a minute and a half of an elderly couple reciting absurdist near-dialogue ("This is my heartbeat of America!" "This is my shoe. My Kinney's...shoe." "Spell cup." "Spell SOUP!") before slamming your ears with two full minutes of one amazing lock-stab rhythmic attack repeated over and over and over and over again until you're sure your CD is somehow skipping like a record would (rather than going "chip! chip! squizzle chip!" like CDs do when they skip like assholes).

See Ruby Falls has it all - drama, comedy, headbanging, soul-searching, poetry, garbage, slumber, speed, peace, atonal noise, and even a (perhaps overly mellow) cover of "Low Rider" (!), rendered sufficiently Drunken Boaty by Todd's inscrutable wordplay at song's end ("Vida Blue.... Sepulveda.... Sunset."). If I had the strength to change anything in this cold, cold world, I would remove the annoying screams from the minute-long "Necktie" and perhaps give "Low Rider" a bit more pep, verve, zest, life and energy, but otherwise this CD is as perfect as a CD can be. Superlative tones and production, quirky and diverse songwriting, and don't forget the purple cover! The cover is purple! Like Prince or Grimace! They even made a movie about it called The Cover Purple, starring Oprah Winfrey as "the fat black guitar."

Add your thoughts?


Dressy Hat - Yesha 1995
Rating = 3

Say! How about a metaphor? Here's one: You find the most beautiful girl in the world. She's gorgeous, exciting, loving, well-rounded, intelligent and funny. You spend all your time with her and rave about her to all her friends. Then she goes away for a while, perhaps on a trip cross-country. You can't wait for this beauty to come home, and get giddy with excitement when her return date nears. Then she shows up as an annoying ugly bitch who keeps farting on you. THAT, my friends, is what it's like to be in love with a beautiful girl who goes away and then comes back ugly and farting on you.

That's my metaphor. Thanks for stopping by.

No hey, wait! I thought of something ELSE that it's like! This would be less a metaphor than an analogy, however. It's like the way Drunken Boat wooed my heart and soul with See Ruby Falls only to turn me over and piss up my asshole with Dressy Hat. Now, I only own a tape dub of this (and the guy who made it for me has already sold the CD because it's a piece of shit) and I can't find band credits for it anywhere online (thankfully, the CD's entire existence appears to have been wiped off the face of the America), but I'm really gonna have to assume that something terrible happened to the band's line-up between the two records, especially in the guitarist department. The last album was tight, well-written, beautifully-performed; this one is just a bunch of made-up-on-the-spot worthless horseshit -- and I don't mean "horse's hit," as in a catchy radio smash performed by our equine friends in the animal kingdom (or their close relative the zebra, as featured in the major motion picture Racing Stripes) (Grammy-award-winning film of the year, in my opinion) (how'd they get those animals to TALK like that? Animals can't talk!!! Not like THAT, in any case!)

These songs sound like they were made up one minute before somebody pressed the "record" button. They're embarrassingly simplistic, repetitive, forgettable, empty, dull, uninspired, uninspiring, uninspiral carpets, uninspirograph and uninspirational. Half the time, the guitar is just playing noodly fake jazz noise, and the other half it's playing three simple chords with no finesse at all. It's the complete antithesis of the last album. The CD booklet announces "No more hippy shit," and I guess that's true. Also no more beauty, no more rhythmic lockstep patterns, and no more decent material. Just loose jazzy dickering and rock bass lines covered with nothing. Worst of all, the always-lovable Todd has added an obnoxious snotty taint to his delivery, now sounding like an annoying assholish Mickey Dolenz who's making fun of you because he's so famous for being in the Monkees. Well FUCK YOU, Mickey Dolenz! "Randy Scouse Git"? More like "Randy Scouse SHIT!" if you ask somebody who doesn't like that song! I do though, so I wouldn't say that. Pool It sure wasn't any good though. But then you didn't write any songs for that one, I don't think. At any rate, keep up the good work, Mickey Dolenz!

There are some good bass lines and a few neat scritchy-scratchy guitar noises, but none of the songs develop into anything and Todd'll just make you want to strangle the guy (Todd). "IT MAKES ME NERVOUS AND IT MAKES ME MAD! IT MAKES ME SO MAD! AND IT MAKES ME NERVOUS!" "FOOD EATING! FOOD EATING!" "I'M ANGRY! I'M ANGRY!" "POST-PUNK! POST-PUNK!" See? Do you see the difference between his delivery in the way I typed THESE lyrics as opposed to the fresh, heartful delivery he gave on the lyrics when I typed them for the last two albums? It's like night and day, isn't it? Interestingly, a "day" is 24 hours long and includes "night" as part and parcel of its system. So essentially night and day are the same thing, though a "day" also includes a "daytime" portion, when night is resting its weary head. It must be hard for night to sleep when it's so light outside. You'd think it would go crazy like Al Pacino in Insomnia. I guess since night is more of an idea than a living being, it's not such a big deal. But even ideas need their rest. Take nu-metal for example. That idea's pretty tired.

As a former member of Drunken Boat, perhaps you can tell me what happened on this record. Had Todd's snobby poetry friends been making fun of him for putting out a pop record? Was it their idea to try to alienate the band's entire fanbase with the modern-day equivalent of Dylan's Self-Portrait? And I'm not talking about that painting Dylan Thomas did of himself, although it too was pretty weak. I'd give it a 4. I'm not sure why he thought he could paint in the first place. Since when has anybody been able to do two different things well? Could Michael Jordan play baseball? Could Lindsay Lohan sing? Could Paris Hilton go away? You see, it's difficult to do two different things well. Lord knows I can't read AND write. Something's got to give. I just keep writing and writing and writing and I have no clue what any of it SAYS! Is this a recipe for Diet Crisco like I'm trying to do? Friends tell me that my lusty crime novella came out as an interview with Glen Benton! Which makes no sense at all since most of the story is about people fucking.

You know I have OCD, right? How I always flip a coin to decide what record to listen to, what band to review, what movie to watch, what book to read? Well, I also often get phrases stuck in my head. My two current ones are "Turds McGinty" and "Totem Pole." So if you could write a little song or haiku based on those two phrases, I'd feel less like things are somehow not right.

For a few minutes anyway. Until I start worrying that my wife is going to get raped in the five-second interval between my leaving the apartment and her locking the door. But you know what they say! "OCD" = "Ooooh! Carnal Desires!"

Reader Comments

epdvi@yahoo.com
This is one great band! They're stabblingly sharp and nervy. I just love them, and I love it when I can buy a group's entire discography for less than ten dollars, and I managed to do that with these guys! They're great, but they're also damn weird. Not to mention disturbing at times, namely on track 1 of their debut album, "Tragic Hands" and "Dream Wagon" on See Ruby Falls (to name a few). They can also be quite beautiful too. The two tracks that start out Ruby are my favorites. It's a shame they messed up so badly with Dressy Hat. They seemed to have simply disappeared off the face of the planet. What a shame.

toddserbousek@comcast.net
Hey thanks for the kind words about our first two records and our EP.

Dressy hat sucks because I (and our drummer Hadley) quit the band before it was recorded.

I'm Todd Serbousek, a guitarist and the one of the original members of the band when it formed in Iowa City Iowa circa 1985.

In my opinion we were the rock influence in the band. Without the tension of the pop vrs rock vrs punk dynamic there's not enough left to be interesting. I left the band over musical and personal differences with our lead singer.

I just moved to Seattle WA, and am looking for a few good men to start a band.

alexlandrecording@verizon.net (Alex Edwards)
Having had the pleasure working and recording Drunken Boat for over a decade in my refcording studio on 23rd street

I feel compelled to respond to this attack on ......

Dressy Hat . .... Steve Gross ...... and Todd Colby

Dressy hat is to me ....a reflection of the change to nyc during the mid 90's

insane rents which forced many artist's and musician's out .........pretty fucked up what happened to this ctty ?

i was lucky to survive. many were not .........

Dressy hat could have been a double album,

many songs they were playing live during this period have not been released..but were played at gigs

such as Sigh and Gravey eye which are amazing!!!!!!

had you seen Dboat live during period you would have a better perspective.

Dressy hat does not represent all dboat was during that time period..

on to Steve Gross.........

Steve is the the most considerate , understated and unapreciated Guitarist i have been exdposed to in my 20yrs recording in NYC.

Steve gross could play circles around all the guitar player's i know .......but chooses not

he also has pefect time like a metranome. the textures he creates sound like multiple guitar parts..

i learned so much about space and where not to play .....none of the drunken boat cd's do justice to steve

.you need to see him on stage...

i have also had the privilage of seing the original line up of Dboat on several occasions.Which was impressive ..granted

Two amazing guitar player's that really compliment each other.....

Steve had a tall order to fill.

he rose to the occasion.

the most impressive part of dboat during this period was how connected the drums and bass are , dboat had become more

groove oriented... granted hadley was a great Rock drummer... i feel mikre press' drumming was the best compliment to Glenn Petry's bass playing

they had the ability to play the most interesting and relaxed hipnotic grooves..impromptu .i have ever heard

..which in my opinion is just as valid musically as music with great song structure...

Mike press and glenn Petry spent many hour practicing in my studio and were really tight !!!!!!!

.Mike press also studied with bernard purdy during this period. and was much more than just a great rock drummer.

on to the Colby

I love Todd "crazy fuck that ihe is

his words are so visual....make me think about my childhood what it was like growing up in 70's and just being a kid..
Todd crosses a fine line between fantasy and reality...and between the truth and a lie..He"s the devil ........satan
he has the abilty to be the meanest and nicest, most caring person in the world,,

gotta " LOVE TODD"

cheers

Mike P
Dressy Hat was recorded on mushrooms, completely improvised. We had a well crafted, thought out record halway done. We were supposed to put out dressy hat quick and follow up with the real polished product but shit fell apart. Todd may have the unreleased tapes.

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Buy DRUNKEN BOAT cds here -- but not the 2006 one; that's a different band!


Drunken Boat? More like Drunken MAN! (Mark Prindle) (Town DRUNK!)