Voice of America

New Music Trend: Songs About Science

Gini Sikes

July 13, 2005

KUCI 88.9 FM in Irvine, CA Kyle Olson, music director
Artichoke – Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols by Artichoke (Greeen): Previously, all I knew about this band is that KUCI had a copy of their album “20 Grit” which was covered in sandpaper and fucked up CDs around it and it sort of always twisted my biscuit. Now, when this album came, I learned they working on a two-album set of songs for Scientists (one for every letter of the alphabet). So far, they have one volume, Anning through Malthus, done. Now they put out an album which is, as the title suggests, a song-by-song cover of the famous Sex Pistols album. I was completely ready to pass it off as novelty, but you REALLY haven’t heard “Pretty Vacant” until you’ve heard it sung over a ukulele. No joke: this is REALLY FUCKING GOOD. It’s sort of folksy with great vocals, but with some more upbeat songs fused with electronics. “God Save the Queen” has a kazoo solo for Christ’s sake. What will it take to sell you this?!
Used Wigs Russ Starke
What if…They Might Be Giants, Ween, and Camper Van Beethoven broke into Robert Pollard’s studio with a stack of science textbooks and more than a few six-packs? I imagine you’d wind up with something sonically similar to Artichoke’s latest. A fun and stylistically diverse collection of DIY pop-rock, this disc is the first of a proposed two based on the concept of stringing together 26 catchy musical biographies (one for each letter of the alphabet, of course) of historical scientists. That sounds way more highbrow than it actually comes across, though. From the cowboy swagger of “Einstein, Albert” to the percolating “Burbank, Luther,” and from the megaphone-voiced rave-up “Galilei, Galileo” to the Beatle-chorused “Darwin, Charles Robert”,” this is more School of Rock than science class. This should fit nicely next to the hotly anticipated 5-disc collection by Jay-Z addressing the elements of the periodic table. I hear that “Ununnilium” is particularly bangin’. Standout Tracks: “Malthus, Thomas Robert”, “Fuller, Richard Buckminster”, “Einstein, Albert”, “Burbank, Luther”
Cleveland Museum of Natural History Michael J. Ryan, Ph.D., Curator and Head, Vertebrate Paleontology
“26 Scientists, Volume One: Anning – Malthus.” Sounds like a boring book? No way! It’s an über-cool new album by the band ARTICHOKE. Featuring eclectic power-pop tunes, one written for a scientist for each letter of the alphabet, its brain-snappingly groovy. Could these folks be the next ARCADE FIRE?
SciScoop Linda (Sweetwind)
Luther Burbank is my new favorite song. The use of a spoken voice in part of it, surrounded by a catchy beat, reminds me a little of Beck. (full review)
WNUR 89.3 FM in Chicago Steve S.
was surprised by this cd… expected an annoying, ironic way too self-aware joke thing, but it’s a pretty rocking indie pop album.
The World - Technology Podcast (#54) Clark Boyd
Artichoke’s “Einstein, Albert.” Talk about Geek Rock!
WAWL 91.5 FM in Chattanooga Mark 'Flyingman' Caldwell
It makes u ponder over your smooth and wrinkled college cafeteria peas. Fun loud GMO Punk well deserving of a “nobel” spin on the radio. Chad Kempfert
A quirky combination of guitar pop, artiness, strange imagery and great songs.
Am I the first one to get that “Abstract Red Adam” is about the short story, “The Circular Ruins” by Jorge Luis Borges? Cool! Thumbs up to 26 Scientists too, from a fellow traveler.
Skratch Magazine H. Barry Zimmerman
I thought, There must be a mistake. I examined the disc cover top to bottom. There was no mention of what record label Artichoke is on. I had already listened to EVAPORATION several times, and I was shocked to find that this disc is self-produced. This is a bad-ass, cool album. Where are the suits? Artichoke is a creative, smart, cool, highly-marketable band. Admittedly, there is a little too much music inspired by the teachings of Weezer-a trend I am sick to death of; but Artichoke is at least taking time to twist it a bit and present it in a new way. There are some LP-period touches on EVAPORATION. There is the sound of children playing in the water on the song “Noah”; there is a nighttime soundscape on the song “More Spackling Tools”. Artichoke is smart-ass, artsy-fartsy cool. EVAPORATION is fabulous fun.
Los Angeles New Times, Critic's Choice Bob Powers
All heart: With their self-released disc Evaporation, Artichoke has done the impossible: They’ve gorged themselves on the Pavement/Pixies diet of ’80s and ’90s indie rock and managed to regurgitate a sound that doesn’t suck. Frontman Timothy Sellers sings/talks with a laid-back Steve Malkmus monotone, and some of the guitar outros could’ve been plucked from Trompe le Monde, but the inspired songwriting avoids any been-there-done-that pitfalls. “I try to write songs about stuff no one’s written about yet,” says Sellers. That stuff includes everything from the construction of Noah’s Ark to his own band’s demise and “geek rock epitaph.” It’s infectious inde pop throughout and though nearly an hour in length, the disc doesn’t drag. A frequent request on KXLU, they had kids sitting cross-legged and transfixed at that station’s recent Fundrazor show at the Knitting Factory. And now booker/curator Mike TV has made them a welcome fixture at his Launchpad East the last Tuesday of every month at Mr. T’s Bowl.

Artichoke, a four-piece emo band, saw action in the Alterknit Lounge. Fundrazor attendees sat crossed-legged in appreciation as the room resonated with the band’s unique sound.

KXLU Fundrazor, reviewed in the Los Angeles Loyolan (5/1/02)

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