The music writer sat down with an arm draped around his computer. He compiled a number of scathing, yet nasally intelligent phrases concerning the band Incubus, which he had already decided was clunky and bland. Some of these were: "The quartet's latest record, A Crow Left of the Murder combines the fecund inanity of latter-day radio punk with busy basslines and bungled guitar trickery."; "Isn't there a photo of this band wearing tube socks over their penises?"; "Oh, Incubus. My little brother likes them. He's a Marine."; "There's a rumor going around on the Internet that Incubus is just another one of Janet Jackson's practical jokes."; and "I dreamt that an evil spirit visited me in my sleep and impregnated me. He looked a lot like that singer guy from Incubus, which was cool, until he started singing. I felt tarnished and tube-like."
After carefully considering their meter, syntax and likely impact, the journalist decided these observations were shallow and perhaps dishonest. Reluctantly he decided to listen to the album he'd so pre-emptively maligned. The album's cover depicted a number of images closely resembling traditional tattoo art done by an apprentice with a crochet needle, below which were turgid silhouettes of the five member's faces. He wondered if this poorly constructed visual was intended to represent the band's traditional masculine identity and resolve (to avoid the vestiges of both "high" and "low" art). No matter, it's only the music that's important, he lied to himself.
The first song, "Megalomaniac," was familiar to him somehow, as he must've accidentally stumbled into a diner or bathroom where FM radio was in vogue. As with a few of the other songs (he'd looked ahead at the lyrics), this particular piece dealt, lazily, with the pernicious influences of media and celebrity culture. Brandon Boyd, in his pinched whine, emoted, as if at some hallucinatory archetype of fame, "You're no Jesus! Yeah you're no f***ing Elvis! Wash your hands clean of yourself baby and step down!" Was it not somewhat hypocritical, if not ridiculous to address such issues on an album released by millionaires on one of the world's largest media conglomerates? Is asserting that someone is not actually Elvis something of an insult in some circles? The journalist scratched his skyward nose and lamented the existence of a culture so self-contained, so like an animate Möbius strip that it simultaneously creates and swallows its own feeble opposition.
Though his initial opinions were reinforced by track number one, in the interests of his integrity and ultimately pure and objective heart, the plucky journalist let the album play. He chose another track, "Pistola," which began with some silly synthesizer blurps possibly meant to disorient the listener or perhaps coax his or her brain into a food-like state of inanimate preconsumption. Soon after, the energetic guitars jumped in at a strategic place and did a manageable job of propping up Boyd's voice as he voiced, "My pen is a pistola ..." If your pen is only a pistola, that's a crappy pen, the writer thought, and he also thought the song crappy as well, in the way that it made an attempt to simulate experimentation but failed. Refried synth swirls, flaccid wankery and awkward dynamics do not make a band the next King Crimson or Radiohead or whatever entity Incubus is attempting to be. Another soulless attempt to anthemize, the writer thought, and was so pleased with this neologism that he treated himself to a different, more obscure, album.
Before Incubus takes the stage at our beloved Idaho Center, everyone's first or second favorite band with ex-At the Drive In members, Sparta, will leave you in a gyrating state of phenomenological uncertainty. You might be forced to ask, "Just where does my body end? Is it the pain of my toothache in their guitars?" Australian exports The Vines will not be playing the show as scheduled, due to their mysterious disappearance into the bowels of an Applebee's in Derby, Minnesota. Rumor has it their music so closely resembled the sound of a mop being squeezed over a can of steak that no one knew the difference.
And now for the postcript ... I, Jim Toweill, will be taking a long, if not infinite, hiatus from the pages of Boise Weekly as I am leaving town to realize my dream of becoming a dietician. I have appreciated you, my devout readership and hope to return to the Treasure Valley one day to regulate your intake of phosphorous, Freon, taint and vellum.
Incubus with Sparta, August 6, doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m., $34.50 for reserved seats and GA Lawn seats, Idaho Center Amphitheater, Nampa. Tickets at 442-3232, 466-TIXX, ICTickets.com and Ticketweb.