Tracy & the Hindenburg Ground Crew

Margaret Dumont

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With all the recording technology that came out in the '80s and '90s, a band can sound sleek and professional with even a modest recording budget. Whether Tracy & the Hindenburg Ground Crew were unaware of this gadgetry or deliberately chose not to use it is immaterial. When so many other bands spent all their time on focusing their sound and none writing interesting songs, on Margaret Dumont this band went the other way. The result is a sprawling, hilarious, and occasionally disturbing piece of experimental comedy and dadaist nonsense, with just a bit of great rock & roll thrown in. The opening cuts are as fitting an example as any. "Room" is a low-fi nursery rhyme for adults, recorded with background noise that might be random and might be deliberate. Just when you think that the album is going to all sound like a bad demo tape, the second cut kicks in. "Trouble" is a fine piece of precise pop with a catchy keyboard riff, the kind of tune every garage band in America would love to call their own. From there things segue into "Trash Day," a Devo-ish chant with the insistent lyric, "It's trash day, and I'm putting you out of my mind." The rest of the album is full of stylistic swerves, with a gore-crazed college fight song, a country & western ode to Perrier water, a Russian traditional song played on kazoo while lead singer Tracy Thielen chants a boy scout song, and a gospel tune praising Satan. The latter, entitled "Found a Friend," got the group their first soundtrack appearance in the movie GI Jane. It's not the best piece on this album, or the worst. It's sure not typical, because that's the last word that will ever be used about this fascinating chaos of ideas.

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