Where to even begin talking about B.A. Johnston, let alone his recorded music? Well, let’s start with the album cover. His previous effort from only a year-and-a-half ago, Hi Dudes! featured an image from Weird Science. This one goes straight for the jugular—it’s a cartoon of Johnston riding a tiger and wielding a sword while Toronto burns behind him. Awesome.
For this outing, his ninth album and his second on the wicked Mammoth Cave label, Johnston has 17 new songs accompanied mostly by Paul Linklater, of such wicked acts as Colleen and Paul, Bidiniband and The Pinecones. Linklater’s upper-register harmonies add a little something to Johnston’s songs about hating Tim Hortons while being in Tim Hortons (among others).
Half of the songs on this album kind of sound like previous songs but with different lyrics, but really, who cares? Johnston has always had a penchant for writing crazily funny and sometimes even heartwarming songs. Well, there’s less sentimentality here, but that’s more than made up for with all the namedropping.
Take a song like “Straight Outta Cobden” which references the small Ontario township, or “I Don’t Wanna Live in Windsor” about… the title should make it pretty clear.
But there’s way more than that. “Luke Skywalker Is A Whiney Baby” makes a solid argument as to how the Star Wars protagonist makes characters like C3PO, Jabba the Hutt and Jar Jar Binks look like okay guys, with the unexpected backing of a banjo. “Monster Squad” quickly explains how to defeat any member of the aforementioned team. “Roll Teddy Roll” is a gleeful ode to stealing cable. “GST Cheque” is a frenetic jaunt through all the shit Johnston would do with the 60-someodd bucks the Canadian government regularly gives its citizens.
There are a few shining moments on the album, of course. “Bad Cat Sitter” has Johnston rightfully raising the point that pet owners sometimes have their pets eating better than their real, human friends. But near the end, Johnston messes up and laughs, and then continues on with the song.
“No Pancakes In Heaven” is a weirdly tropical-sounding song supported only by synths and sung with a kind of sporadic Carribean lilt. “Too Dumb to Live” takes jabs at Two and a Half Men and relates it to why the world is collectively too stupid to function. And then there’s the glorious achievement that is “The Dishwasher Stands Alone,” which could be a forgettable song had it not managed to incorporate both Laura Peek and Mike O’Neill.
Never stop, B.A. Never stop.
Top Tracks: “GST Cheque”; “Too Dumb To Live”; “The Dishwasher Stands Alone”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good) +*swoop*