Pencilnecks Greatest Hits

Admittedly ignorant of the Pencilnecks, I accessed their web site (www.pencilnecks.com) and was heartened to learn that you don’t have to be a youngster to be a wise ass — these guys aren’t spring chickens and they’re definitely a bit loco. The Pencilnecks find fascination in the most mundane aspects of life and often tell historical and biblical tales in their songs. Much of the material covers terrain similar to that of Jonathan Richman, but at the other end of the musical spectrum in terms of sound. In fact, one thing that really stands out is that these guys are quite musically sophisticated and diverse, not always the case for acts that regularly incorporate humour into their music. This can be good or bad. On the positive side, “Dead Birds” sounds live Levon-fronted Band, “Tired Angels” sounds Beach Boys-ish without bordering on pastiche, and the perversely Latin-flavoured “On The Way to Manitoba” is a real treat. Sometimes, though, the Pencilnecks sound like they’re in a bad musical theatre production. But if you’re looking for something off the wall musically and lyrically, this might be the ticket. (Uptite)