Deathmobile (CD)

Deathmobile (CD)Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson

Produced by Doug Appel and Mark Menold

Visit Deathmobile on MySpace

Released by Black Shamrock Music, LLC.

What would happen if you combined Frank Zappa with the Groovie Ghoulies, added in a bit of Mr. Bungle, and slapped a bit of zombie make-up across the cover? More than likely you’d get Deathmobile, the house-band of Pittsburgh’s “The It’s Alive! Show.” You’d also get a CD that would allow, nay, demand you break off the eject button on your CD player, lest something come crawling out of your speakers and pummel you with base guitar. Okay, maybe that last bit was going a bit too far, but you will wind up with these infectious grooves caught in your head, and will more than likely find yourself singing them at inappropriate moments. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Deathmobile is the hard-rocking brainchild and project of Doug Appel and Mark Menold, who in their guises as “Pointy” (the demonic music director) and “Professor Emcee Square” (the undead host of “The It’s Alive! Show”), crank out disturbingly funny lyrics and crunchy grooves that sometimes make you forget just how damned funny the songs actually are. Armed with seems like oodles of musical talent and a warped sense of humor, Deathmobile proves to be more than just funny: It’s a damned fine album.

The first noticeable aspect of the album is the repeated songs “The Shrimping Spine” parts one through five. Described as “mini-songs,” the thirty-second ditties detail the worst beating in history, periodically checking in throughout the album. Just when you think you’ve forgotten all about them, another one chimes back in with another side-splitting assault. Following are songs that play directly into the Professor Emcee Square persona of undead horror host, such as “Rise,” a call to the grave for his minions to unearth themselves. Working in the same vein is “Dead Man” (about, you guessed it, the professor’s life-challenged status), “Invisible Bugs,” and the incredibly likable “Me Love.” Also presented are the professor’s “Carnival Barker” persona though songs like “Blood Buckets, ” in which the good Professors describes many nasty ways for stupid people to kill themselves. There’s also “Make Way,” “Lizard Brain,” and “Make a Mess (Move On),” all of which deal with misanthropic antics in a way that’s sure to endear them to any listener’s heart. There are also several songs which go into a different category, though finding one to fit would be a chore. Songs such as “Sleep (Insomnia)” and “Mr. Stinky” are somewhat autobiographical, as they refer to an extended period of sleeplessness in Pointy’s life and a particularly hygienically challenged acquaintance of the band. Finally, there’s the jazzy and remarkably catchy “Dr. Kendrick’s Freak Boutique” (Exhibits A and B), where anything and everything a freak needs can be found.

What makes Deathmobile so impressive is not only their musical ability and their knack for writing catchy tunes, but also that they can hold their own with any of the heavyweights out there, and they rarely perform live. (Side note: Should you get the chance to see one of these performances, DO IT.) Their musicianship never takes a back seat to their humor. Throughout the course of the album, the guitars alternate between a speed-metal wet dream, 80’s glam rock, and thundering goth-rock.

Highlights to the album are the songs “Rise,” “Blood Buckets” (I defy you to listen to this song once and not walk around singing it), “Make Way,” “Me Love” (ditto this one), and “Dr. Kendrick’s Freak Boutique.” Also included is a weird bonus track that is actually Pointy’s answering machine tape. Don’t ask why, but it gets funnier with repeated listenings. As with the band members themselves, Deathmobile, both the album and the band, is well worth the money spent, and, to put it bluntly, if you find you don’t like it, you probably have no soul.

Track Listing
1. The Shrimping Spine Pt 1
2. Rise
3. Dead Man
4. Blood Buckets
5. Shrimping Spine Pt. 2
6. Lizard Brain
7. Make Way
8. Invisible Bugs
9. Shrimping Spine Pt. 3
10. Sleep (Insomnia)
11. Make a Mess (Move On)
12. Mr. Stinky
13. Shrimping Spine Pt. 4
14. Dr. Kendrick’s Freak Boutique (Exhibit A)
15. Dr. Kendrick’s Freak Boutique (Exhibit B)
16. Me Love
17. The Shrimping Spine Pt. 5
18. Bonus Track


4 1/2 out of 5

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Scott A. Johnson