by Jeffrey Patrick Lemarr
After over a decade of inactivity, 2007 finds the Swirling Eddies serving up The Midget, The Speck and the Molecule, their first release of original music since 1994's masterpiece Zoom Daddy. Released by Stunt Records, it is available now through the band's website .
If you are unfamiliar with the Eddies, they are the brainchild of frontman Daniel Amos and songwriter extraordinaire Terry Scott Taylor (who, along with the other Eddies, uses a pseudonym here. His happens to be Camarillo Eddy.) Known most recently for his work with Lost Dogs as well as producing the soundtrack for Nickelodeon's cartoon, Catscratch, Taylor returns here to the mad experiment, The Swirling Eddies, who, throughout the years, has produced some of the most innovative and intelligent music in the Christian realm.
Yes, Taylor and the Eddies are Christians in the truest sense, and by that, I mean they forsake shallow religiosity for the deeper waters of real faith, divine grace and love. Never the makings of cookie cutter Christian radio, the Eddies proudly chart the waters of their own humanity, holding fast to faith. To saddle them with the "Christian Music" label is to do them an injustice, yet in some ways they offer a more realistic view of faith than those syrupy sweet groups that Nashville cranks out to the sound of cash registers ringing.
The Midget, The Speck and the Molecule begins with what may be Taylor's finest vocal performance in "It All Depends," a well-crafted tune about human perspective, containing my favorite lyric on the album:
Some say death is a doornail
Some say death is a door
And that it's all just beginning
When the fat lady sings
I suppose it all depends
How you look at these things
Taylor relies, as he often does, on his knowledge of California lore and geography in songs like "Salton Sea" and "Madonna Inn." Both songs are quirky gems that seem like a half-breed born of Daniel Amos' Songs From the Heart and the aforementioned Zoom Daddy. These songs will not put the Eddies on the map of mainstream radio, but fans of the Eddies will no doubt come to relish them for the delicate works of genius they are.
"Giants in the Land," one of the sneak peek tunes offered to those who pre-ordered the CD, is a driving autobiographical look at being a dinosaur of Christian rock in an age when everyone is looking for the newest and hottest act. Again, Taylor weaves a tapestry of lyrics like few can, touching on his own history with the Nashville machine:
The chickens roostin', the cows home in the barn
The farmer didn't know it 'til he bought the farm
He's outstanding in the field that did him in
He's been growin' what he's sowin' 'til he reaped the wind
We're all of us farmers singing this refrain
"Oh, Lord of the Harvest, please remember my name!"
Among the more humorous songs on the effort is "Medley of Our Hit," which finds the Eddies poking good-natured fun at both themselves and the handful of fans who grumbled about the lateness of the CD's release, including a reminder that:
Compared to coming glory
It don't compare a bit
Just another sad story
Of another piece of hit
"This Is The Title" also strikes the funny bone, leading us through the creation of another song before drifting into "The Old Hitchhiker," itself a continuation from the album's title track.
Perhaps it's because I'm a newlywed who longs to give more to his wife than he may ever be able to afford, but I find "Cardboard Box" to be a lovely sentiment. Sung from the perspective of a homeless man in love, Taylor expresses to his wife the longing to give her the best he can:
I'll tape an ad to your shoulders
Of catalogue mink
Give ya newspaper roses
And champagne ink
"Tremelo" and "Snow in a Can" are weaker tunes than the others, but when it comes to Taylor's writing, that's like saying "A Day In the Life" is a weaker tune by the Beatles than "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." It's all shades of good here, folks. There isn't a stinker in the bunch, but the Eddies are an acquired taste for those who don't like truth spelled out for them. Layer after layer, you'll find more and more to love here, so if you're ready to experience something beautifully different, give the Eddies a spin. Chances are you'll enjoy the ride.
Tuesday Morning 3AM (Tm3am.com)
by Andre Salles
The Midget, the Speck and the Molecule is extraordinary, easily one of the finest albums of 2007. Far from the comedic knockoff that part of me was dreading, it's a major work from the mind of Taylor, still one of the sharpest songwriters around when he's on his game. The album brings together many of Taylor's styles, and works in a few more he's never tried. And yet, it is still absolutely a Swirling Eddies album, quirky and funny and a genuine treat to listen to.
The music is terrific, some of it taking from DA and some from the Zoom Daddy sound, but it's the lyrics that make this record. Taylor is in full glory here, writing about lecherous lotharios, lonely homeless men, despairing old couples, doubt, regret, humility, and even on a couple of occasions, his own band. This is top form Terry Taylor, every line a knockout, and every song inviting you to pick it apart and find the hidden meanings.
I'd have waited twice as long for an album this good. The Midget, the Speck and the Molecule is even better than I'd hoped, a genuine triumph for Terry Taylor, and the best thing he's contributed to since the last Daniel Amos album in 2001. It's a prickly, thoughtful, funny, inspiring little disc, one that definitely lives up to the Eddies legacy. But don't worry - it's enjoyable even if you've never heard of the Eddies or Terry Taylor before.
The Midget, The Speck and the Molecule
Three years later, with all the pre-orders filled and availability now guaranteed, the only thing left to consider about The Swirling Eddies' "The Midget, The Speck and The Molecule" is the music itself. To the delight of almost everyone, "MSM" is not "Sacred Cows Volume Moo". The question is, is this the Eddies we expected?
Not quite. If you'll recall, the Eddies was the Daniel Amos side project that allowed the band to breathe. After years of chasing a uniquely singular musical vision, and getting nowhere doing it, writer/vocalist Terry Taylor channeled his frustrations and his sometimes severely twisted wit into a new alter ego, Camarillo Eddy. Camarillio still loved the Lord, but he had a funny way of saying it. He also lacked that switch in the ordinary brain that warned, "you probably shouldn't say that", resulting in rockets on the White House lawn, porno people, suggestion that Christian College students secretly imbibed (gasp!) and the face of St. Paul in this butt roast. While DA often faced musical confusion from the larger audience, the Eddies faced controversy for their 'screw 'em if they can't take a joke' attitude.
An artistic high-water mark, "Zoom Daddy", found a lack of pen names and an inkling that it was a DA disc in disguise. Here in 2007, DA is as infrequent a name as the Eddies and so the immediate sound of "MSM" is more akin to Taylor's full-time musical gig, The Lost Dogs. It's no surprise then that the album includes all the surviving Dogs, Mike Roe, Derri Daugherty, longtime bass co-hort Tim Chandler and recent inductee Steve Hindalong. It's notable missing-in-action include Dave Raven, Greg Flesch and Rob Watson. The liner notes for "MSM" indicate Jerry Chamberlain's presence but I haven't sussed out where yet.
Remember that the Eddies was always more a stylistic out for Taylor than a cohesive unit, so it should not shock anyone to find that "MSM" sounds like... tah-dah!... a Swirling Eddies disc. Touching bases such as Taylor's penchant for travelogue songs, a careful whip between the subjective sacred and the profane and a balancing act of rock, folk and psychedelia, "MSM" could very well have been "Son Of Zoom". The title cut features some shimmer and dreaminess and what would have, at one time, been considered side one shows Dogs roots peeking through a swirling coif.
Don't be fooled. Contextually, you need this side one because it amplifies (in every sense) what is ostensibly side two, the most raucous rock Taylor's made since his solo disc "John Wayne". Mood snaps like "Tremolo" and pointed statements like "A Humble Man Rises" wouldn't seem as bold without the contrast of the title cut and "Madonna Inn". Sure, the lead-off "It All Depends" telegraphs the division from the get-go, but I'll admit I was thrown. Roe's leads seem to evoke Chuck Berry and Jerry Garcia all at once while Daugherty's heighten mood and bounce on waves of reverb. Hindalong's fascination with the toms is also present.
Noticeably absent is a true-blooded farce like "Ed Takes A Vacation", "Hide The Beer The Pastor's Here" or "God Went Bowling". "This Is The Title", the last song that's paired with a reprise of the title (much like DA's "Motorcycle") may ape a laugh-track, but ends up being quite witty, recalling King Crimson's "Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With". For everyone who wanted Taylor and company to rock again, but still wanted them to remember the 'girl what brung them', "The Midget, The Speck, and The Molecule" has it all.
My only caveat, (much as I tried to avoid it, I can't in good conscience or reporting), is with the attachment of controversy to the release. Bringing up the fine points of it seems like dredging so I'll step light on sore toes, but what should have been an arrival with party hats and noisemakers winds up with hard feelings and harsh words. It's glanced upon in the song "Medley Of Our Hit" and while I feel that some of the involved parties had an unnecessary light thrown on them, I also have to say that the song rocks. It is easily the punchiest, most crankable tune Taylor's been involved with in half a decade. That it continues to reverberate in an uneasy way is worrisome and one hopes that, at some point, all parties could come to the table and offer a kind word to each other.
With all this in mind, I still offer up "The Midget, The Speck and The Molecule" as a recording worthy of a little cash, a little patience and maybe even a little forgiveness toward everyone (and I mean everyone) who took a tumble into this mystery spot. I certainly hope it isn't another five to ten years before we hear Rock 'n Roll Terry again.
P.S. For the music nerd out there, there's a melody line at the end of "Medley" that sounds strangely akin to a melody line at the end of Air's "The Vagabond" featuring Beck. If anyone would like to confirm, deny or insist I'm having a stroke, feel free to do so.
The Phantom Tollbooth
5 Alarm Clocks out of 5
Carol Ann said it best in the promo for the film Poltergeist 2, "They're back"! After a ten year sabbatical the band that won't go away is back, and thank God for that. The band has changed personnel somewhat. This time around original members Camarillo Eddy, Berger Roy Al & the enigma that is Spot are joined by Picky Swelly, Judy Ism, Derry Air & Newt York Newt York with a special guest appearance by Eddie DeGarmo. Although Hort, Arthur, Gene & Prickly are naturally missed this incarnation of the band may very well be the strongest to date.
Once again the band has turned to that old sausage master named Terry Scott Taylor for the tunes that appear here. The relationship between Camarillo & Terry is still somewhat of a mystery and cannot be fully delved into here for fear that small children may be scared away and run screaming into the night. What can be said with the utmost confidence though is that the eleven songs on this album are perfect rock n roll from a seemingly perfect band. The production, the playing, the vocals, everything about this album smacks of, as Dr. Tony Shore would say, total professionalism.
As I sit here listening to this album I am reminded of just what a really great band the "Eddies" are. The decade since their last release has only whetted my appetite for music of this caliber, it is top notch all the way around. For more information on the band check out their web site at www.swirlingeddies.com.
by Ian Hayter
Fans of The Swirling Eddies have been waiting 10 years for this follow-up to 1997's 'Sacred Cows', an album which took a satirical side-swipe at the CCM industry. Brainchild of frontman, singer and Daniel Amos legend Terry Scott Taylor, working here as Wilbury-esque alias Eddy Camarillo, this 11-song set has been well worth waiting for. It is not an album of faith-by-numbers Christian platitudes, but an exploration of what it means to be fully human, with humour and some very, very good music. The start of the opening track "It All Depends" (probably the best of the bunch here) seems to promise a bit of prog-rock, but soon calms down into a track which is musically very mature and lyrically brilliant.
"Cardboard Box", the tale of a homeless man trying to give his wife the best he can manage, runs it a close second for quality, but there are no bad tracks on this album. Camarillo/Taylor pokes gentle fun at himself in "Medley Of Our Hit" and "Giants In The Land" explores what it means to be an old rocker in an age desperate for innovation and youthful energy. The whole album was a delight on the first listen through, but gets even better on repeated listening. Discerning music fans should search this one out..
The Midget, The Speck and the Molecule
by Paul Ethridge
What do you get when you have Picky Swelly, Camarillo Eddy, Judy Ism, Newt York Newt York, Derry Air, Berger Roy Al, Spot, & Eddie Degarmo in the same studio? The best recording of the year. The band that won't go away (The Swirling Eddies) have altered their line-up to become a supergroup with their latest release, The Midget, The Speck, And The Molecule. Other than Degarmo (who is considered a special guest Eddie), this band includes the talents of Marc Byrd, Terry Scott Taylor, Mike Roe, Steve Hindalong, Derri Daugherty, Tim Chandler, & Jerry Chamberlain.
Terry Scott Taylor wrote the entire music and lyrics. It opens with It All Depends, a song Lost Dogs has been covering in their recent tour. Knowing the Eddies history, you would think that this song may be about bladder control issues but it's not. This is a release of sober, soul-searching lyrics of the human condition longing for redemption day ("And that it's all just beginning when the fat lady sings"). The title track follows with imagery of passing an old hitchhiker, who becomes a midget, then a speck, then a molecule in the driver's rearview mirror. The hitchhiker should not be ignored because he has knowledge of impending doom that could assist the driver. Madonna Inn is a throwback tune that waxes nostalgic for the romantic getaway. Giants In The Land should be the single from this release. It's a very catchy tune about how the great artists/bands now struggle to pursue their art and are in dire need of direct fan support to survive. Salton Sea is another nostalgic tune that yearns for the ancient pleasures from a paradise that has become a plague. My Cardboard Box is another romantic song from a homeless man who wishes to share his cardboard box with his main squeeze. It reiterates the current instability of personal economies. Snow In A Can musically is similar to Taylor's most recent solo work, little, BIG. A very laid-back sound and another social commentary of strange modern conveniences. A Medley Of Our Hit is directed at a discontented few on the Daniel Amos messageboard (the daMB), nearly word for word of an open letter from Camarillo Eddy that was posted at the height of pre-order fatigue. Big Dork and his buddies should be proud of this cranked-out sausage. It rocks. Tremolo is very interesting musically...fresh & different sounding. Lyrically excellent, like the rest. The Humble Man Rises includes this piece of wisdom: you're stronger and you're strongest when your knees are weak. This Is The Title/The Old Hitchhiker closes the CD with humorous lyrics reminiscient of the theme to the old Garry Shandling Show. This Is The Title flows into The Old Hitchhiker, which serves as a reprise of the title track. Very well done.
Musically, this disc is quite varied. I've heard sounds that remind me of early The Choir, Orbis-era Roe, Island Dreams, & more recent T. S. Taylor.
The bass lines by Chandler propel the sounds to another level. Although Lost Dogs are a supergroup in the folksy, alt-country vein, The Swirling Eddies are one in an alternative, progressive rock vein.
"The new album rocks!" - Nicole from MySpace.com
"It is nothing I expected. It sounds like nothing I've ever heard before. Most of the songs left me scratching my head on the first listen. And now that I've heard it four times I know for sure there's a God in heaven and that he digs me. - Aqua Green Toupee, the DAmb
"The songs are a variety of styles and speeds musically, so there's probably at least a few tracks every fan could really dig regardless of their favorite past music from Terry/DA/SE.... the finished product rocks and I feel it is a solid eddies release. i'm glad we even got another eddies release in the first place - that is certainly something to be thankful for." - Mountain fan, the Damb
"This album was worth every second of the long wait. While Camarillo Eddy was sulkin' and surfin' in Corona Del Mar over the past several years, he had some fine, fine songs gestating in that surrealist brain of his. Far and above the best thing the Eddies have ever conceived, aside from the transcendent "Zoom Daddy". Personal favorites: "It All Depends" and "This is the Title", which is every songwriter's nightmare..." - Todd Jenkins, Amazon.com
"Easily, this is my favorite SE release, the title track is one of Terry's most haunting and cardboard box is Terry at his best. There is not a dud on the whole CD. At some points it reminds me of the 2nd cd from the Song's From The Heart boxset. This is a must have release from one of Today's most under appreciated and unnoticed songwriters.." - Mike Idnest, MySpace.com
"I just loooooove 'medley'! .. 'humble man' - another AWESOME one! Are you getting the idea I'm going crazy over this recording?" - John Foxe, the DAmb
"It's very good. Kind of weird and trippy with a few rockers thrown in. Kind of reminds me of Zoom Daddy.Best thing Terry has done since MBD. Go buy a copy. Now. - Dennis, the DAmb
"After the long hiatus and a release schedule that rivals (or tops?) Horrendous Disc I put myself in their proverbial shoe-how do you approach yourself as an incarnation of yourself? The Eddies have always been ( I think) a concept rather than a particular group of musicians- the previous recordings under that banner had guests, and line up changes. With that in mind, what I like about the latest "eddie suit" is the way it finds itself mirroring other DA/LD/TST/SE projects-yet rather stands alone in its sound and texture. To me its apparent that Terry put on his Cam cam..and peered back in his own rear view mirror (the use of backmasking - such a sweet technique now with digital sound )- sets you up right at the opening- seems to transport you back- to find ghosts and lines of past "Ideas" . I find this recording is laced beautifully throughout to give a large "historical" panoramic view of the marvelous sound, which is of course- the Swirling Eddies. It sadly has a swan song murmur ..this could be the last of it..a similar whisper we found in Mr. Buechners Dream. Lets hope not
If you love the man and his band(s)-I really believe this could be the Coupe De Gras-and for the purist who cant see beyond ZD- it can at least hold its own as the other bookend in a marvelous creation that I grew up with and still love so ~
The Swirling Eddies.
WELL WORTH WAITING FOR... Verry Eddies..and Very Good.." - Jiminy, the DAmb
"Did i mention... this CD is good. very good." - LarryL, from the DAmb
"The Eddies Get Perspective... That's what I would have called it. It's a perfectly themed album hitting on all the screwed up views we suffer as humans." - Zippitydoodaddy, the Damb
"Got the new cd this weekend -- love it a lot! Well worth the wait." - Rooskie, from MySpace.com
"The best recording of the year..." - peewinkle, the Damb
"TMTSTM is fantastic, front to back." - Zudrak, the DAmb
"Loving 'It All Depends', 'Giants in the Land', 'Salton Sea' and 'This is the Title'. Cool new album, folks." - Robert, from MySpace.com
"If you like the Swirling Eddies at all, you will LOVE this one. Go and order it right now. It is very good. Well written in fairly typical Eddie's style with a more serious twist. Now, go order it. It's good." - Tattoobob, the Damb
"the new song feels soooo good... I forgot people made music like this... thanks!" - Michael, from MySpace.com
"The new album is that favorite warm fuzzy blanket you had that has been lost for ten years and now found! I love it." - Jason, from MYSpace.com
"The Eddies are rock and rolls' premiere pudding fudge pop band. The new disc is like a bowl of mashed taters, mmm mmmm good!" - Big Blue Kat from MySpace.com