November 2008

Mischief Brew & Joe Jack Talcum - Photographs from the Shoebox
Fistolo Records FIST-024
Format: LP
Released: 2008

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

This split LP is a rare treat, featuring two Philadelphia artists: punk pirates Mischief Brew and ex-Dead Milkmen singer Joe Jack Talcum. Mischief Brew delivers six killer songs on side one that defy singular categorization, barreling out of the gate with "Labor Day Massacre." "Bury Me In Analog" is an apropos and entertaining inclusion, while lead singer Erik Petersen's classic punk-rock growl summons greatness from his band-mates, who can jump, jive and downright riot along with anything he presents them.

Joe Jack Talcum's voice hasn't changed since his days with the Dead Milkmen; it's still nasal, raw and completely endearing. All of the songs are intimate and short, tinged with both humor and sadness. "Photograph" laments old photos, insisting "I don't want your photograph, I just want you." All sweetness is set aside with the twisted "Sex Sting" about getting caught in an underage Internet sex-offender setup."Alcohol" is a fond farewell love song to booze, with Talcum spilling his guts: "I gave you my heart, I gave you my liver, I gave you my love and you took my pain." His songwriting is vulnerable and witty, and delivered without pretense.

Vinyl collectors take note: This first-pressing of 500 copies is on 100% virgin gray vinyl with amazing artwork. The high-quality pressing employs DMM Processing, whereby the copper plate is cut directly by the diamond stylus, bypassing a secondary transfer stage. Some audiophiles may scoff, but here DMM yields an impressively crisp and powerful sound.