Uncle Bonsai

Myn Ynd Wymyn

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During their eight years of existence, Uncle Bonsai released only two albums: A Lonely Grain of Corn (1984) and Boys Want Sex in the Morning (1986). Near the end of the band's existence, in December 1987, they recorded a show that they put out themselves as a 23-song double-length cassette called Myn Ynd Wymyn. It was made available only to their mailing list and a few stores. In 1992, former Uncle Bonsai member Andrew Ratshin trimmed the album down to a 17-song version released on his Yellow Tail Records label, and that is the version under consideration here. Like a standup comic, Ratshin (who wrote all the songs, three of them with group member Arni Adler) has an eye for the details and foibles of contemporary life, and the album is a virtual compendium of the commonplaces of suburbia. At one point, he disparages the credentials of Middle American commentators like Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp, then sings his own tale of "Me and Mrs. Middle America," which, like many of the songs here, is a recitation of the events that make up ordinary existence ("We go to the bank/ We run to the cleaners/ We hop on a bus/ It takes us back home"). At times, the intention clearly is humorous and satiric -- as in "Another Fat Song" (which concerns liposuction), and the paeans to "K-Mart" and a "Family Restaurant" -- but the suburban ephemera is too closely observed for the observers to escape being implicated. Uncle Bonsai are very much a part of what they sing about, as, no doubt, their audience is as well, which may explain why the songs are greeted with more chuckles of recognition than belly laughs.

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