Jeffrey Scott Holland's COUNTDOWN TO STUPIDITY
Originally published in Pusm Online #99, October 21, 1996
Listening to JSH's _Countdown to Stupidity_ for the first time was like waking up and looking out into a strange landscape. This was partly due to the fact that here in my diaspora in California, the Creeps sound was a glaring contrast. It was also due to the nature of the album itself and the strange art of JSH.
As I got a better listen to Countdown, I was able to get a bearing on just what it was I was hearing. Several distinct musical regions became clear.
Quintessential Creeps Blues: Some people get the blues. Others get the Creeps. JSH has defined the classic Creeps Blues sound with songs like "Creeps Is In My Head" and "Goin' to Estill County". His slide guitar was very convincing, and his voice was sincere as he sang of eating potato chips, praying mantis-like women and bored, lonesome, latenights with the T.V. and out roaming the creepy streets. The chord progressions were blues-based with very memorable melodies.
JSH Rock: Elvis meets JLK; etc. and the Stray Cats and hangs out in the 80s. "The Middle of Nowhere" is a classic song and I would have played the hell out of it on a jukebox at the bowling alley when I was younger. I still would now if there was a full band with it. "You Can't Make Me" and "Salt Shakers and Wax" are cousins of this sound.
Covers: I've never dug covers, but I did love hearing JSH on piano on "Jambalaya". The sound could have been right out of an old Honky Tonk. His crooner vocals were great on "Just Tell Her Jeff Said Hello." If he ever would want to do Elvis... There were also various and sundry REM and Bruce covers which were nice to listen to, but seemed as if JSH was uncertain about how they should be rendered, with his voice changing from husky to smooth and back.
Other notables were "Quit Your Day Job", a half country, half grungey number with a great concept. "My A.M. Radio" was great. It was a blast to hear a JLK number being played with slide guitar.
In all, if he or she would be patient enough to watch close, the listener can view, above the level ground of covers and one-instrument recording techniques, the essence of Creeps in several schizophrenically creative southern-flavored rock, blues and pusm tunes. I'm not sure which JSH sound I would like to hear most with a live band. If he were to perform "Middle of Nowhere" and some good Creeps blues, he couldn't go wrong. Keep looking for Martians, JSH!
|Reviewed by Scott Armel|