The last time I heard from Jim Of Seattle, I compared them to the likes of Brian Wilson, Todd Rundgren, and Prince for their diversity and eclectic side. Eclecticness is still present on Both The Planet Frank And The Chet Lambert Show (Green Monkey) but now they’re getting in contact with Devo and Frank Zappa, the former quite present when they do a cover of “Whip It” but they also get into Jimmy Webb’s realm with a nice rendition of “Wichita Lineman”.
The album is divided in two halves, the eclectic side working as a radio show (The Elders Live From The Planet Frank) and a far more trippy side on the “other” (The Chet Lambert Show), both not coinciding with one another and yet somehow the differences fit perfectly. It plays along well with The Turtles Meet The Battle Of The Bands but they are (ahem) playing with themselves for an order to dominate their practice sheds. In other words, Jim Of Seattle are doing very well stuck in their own world and they’re more than happy to welcome others in for fun and musical joy.
We Are All Famous (Green Monkey) is pop eclecticism at its very best. Take the professional recording studio and home recording quirks, along with that passion to be self-contained, like Brian Wilson, Todd Rundgren, and Prince, and combine them in a mix that involves creating voluptuous music but by balancing on the cusp/rim/lip while maintaining incredible balance. That’s one Jim Owen, who is simply known as Jim Of Seattle. He sings all of the lead vocals and does most of the background vocals and instrumentation here, so when you step into We Are All Famous, you are very much entering the domain of Jim Of Seattle. Not Seattle, although that’s very much a clue, but Jim Of Seattle. There’s a lot of depth in his songs that may sound like mini-stories, or tracks like the instrumental “A Conversation”, which seems to be a passageway towards something much more grand (or simply the next phase). He uses natural sounds with great results, but he also isn’t afraid to use electronic drums to make a statement within a statement. Then you have a track like “Black Lung” (a Rancid cover done nothing like you’d expect) which may sound like something you’d revive out of your dream based on a school auditorium assembly.
Even with a lyric sheet, it’s hard to say if this is a concept album, an album with a running theme, a theme within a concept, a concept within a few themes, or just a collection of songs that are there to fuck with your mind in order to find some sense or continuity. If music is a game, We Are All Famous is a practical game piece and Jim Of Seattle is a very spirited player. Others may give up on the game due to exhaustion, but Jim Of Seattle is not in it to win it, but merely to play for the spirit of playing. For that, he is a gold medal winner.
(You may stream We Are All Famous in full, below via Soundcloud or Bandcamp.)
Jim Of Seattle is a self-contained who does the majority of what you hear in his songs, from vocals to instrumentation. He has been doing this since the early 1980’s and despite the changes of his music scene and the city he lives in, he remains Jim Of Seattle. He has just released a new album on Green Monkey Records
called We Are All Famous
, and it is streaming as Green Monkey’s Album Of The Month throughout January