Bad Astronaut - Twelve Small Steps, One Giant Disappointment

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RIYL

Jets To Brazil
Foo Fighters
No Use For A Name

Tracklist

1 Good Morning Night
2 Ghostwrite
3 Beat
4 Stillwater, California
5 One Giant Disappointment
6 Minus
7 Best Western
8 San Francisco Serenade
9 Autocare
10 Violet
11 Go Humans
12 The F Word
13 The Thirteenth Step

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The idea that this album almost never came out is quite disconcerting. Ultimately that reflects just how seriously Joey Cape takes his music, but what reflects that notion even more is that he was willing to finish and fix an album he wasn’t satisfied with out of respect for his fallen friend Derrick Plourde. As I write this review I am reminded of how Travis must have felt when he was forced to put Old Yeller down. However, just as Old Yeller heroically defended his family from a vicious wolf before his untimely death, Joey Cape has also managed to go out at the top of his game with Twelve Small Steps, One Giant Disappointment, a record that is Bad Astronaut’s bittersweet and final gift to the music world.

Joey has noted that the album “has a split personality” and I couldn’t agree more. There are definitely moments when it is painfully obvious which songs were written with Derrick, and which ones were written after his passing. Bad Astronaut records have always gone in two directions. There has always been the happy-go-lucky punk rock aspects, and then there were the slower, more introspective indie rock leanings, but this is the first Bad Astronaut record where Joey Cape’s songwriting is split right down the middle. Twelve Small Steps, One Giant Disappointment features a healthy mix of all sides of Joey Cape and I think it’s safe to say that a lot of the upbeat material on this album was written before Derrick’s death.

"Good Morning Night" starts the record off in a seemingly positive direction featuring two instances in which a woman counts swiftly from one to nine in the same fashion a cock rock icon might do a count to get the crowd pumped up while thrusting his cod piece in the air. Other rock songs include "Autocare" and "Go Humans", both of which sound like they could be on a Lagwagon record with their catchy choruses and poppy keyboard parts. On the opposite site of the spectrum, there is the fantastic eight minute masterpiece “The F Word” that builds and builds for five of those minutes into one of the saddest endings to a song I have heard in a long time. "One Giant Disappointment" is a stripped down acoustic track that is just as the title denotes, the melancholy harmonies complimented by the subtle banjo picking should be able please even the most jaded indie rock connoisseur.

Lyrically Joey Cape has never been one to slack off, and it seems like he really donated 110% of his time to this record. Much of the lyrical content on this album is truly poetic involving Joey coming to grips with Derrick’s death as well as other tragic moments. "Stillwater, California" is another one of the slower songs on the disc, serving as an ode to Derrick Plourde as well as Jason Sears and Bomer Manzuilo from RKL who both passed away this year. There are many chilling passages dealing with Derrick, but I think the excerpt that really sums up Joey's feelings on music, and Derrick in general, is found in "One Giant Disappointment":

It's almost done
It is the last vocal,
The last song I'll ever write for anyone
Because we wanted out
And you, you got out


The jury is still out on Lagwagon’s status as a band, so who knows when we will see another collaboration featuring Joey’s songwriting. Being a man who has been involved with music for so long, there is no doubt in my mind that he will continue to write music. However, if this were to be Joey’s final plate appearance, I think this would be a fitting end to what has been a fantastic career. If you strip this album down to a single defining theme, that theme would be friendship and this record has spoken to me on way more levels than any one of the 10,000 albums written this year about petty relationships and lost love. Twelve Small Steps, One Giant Disappointment is a moving album, and probably the finest of Joey Cape’s career.

--Barry Scatton

Author

barryscatton
Last updated: 09/29/2009 08:55PM

Comments

Effigy
12/13/2006
08:06AM
Location
DeKalb, Illinois
I absolutely loved this album, especially the song "Minus". The circumstances in which this album was recorded are extremely depressing. It definitely shows. This album feels like it was finished in Plourde's honor and does the ultimate justice to not only Cape's work, but also Plourde's. This album will never go mainstream and Rolling Stone will never put a BA song on a top anything list. This album is for people who appreciate top-quality music written from the heart and the darkest moments in a person's life.
It's not a 5-star album musicwise, I have to agree with the rating. However, it should get a little "*" next to the rating to signify that this is a shining moment in music for this decade.
Bukkakeface
12/13/2006
08:34AM
Age: 32
Location
Telford, PA
I loved the album and agree with the review. The only thing I was a little put off by were that some of the tracks were rehashed from the Cape/Sly acoustic CD and from another comp CD.
genuhaven
12/13/2006
08:41AM
Location
MA
Wow, I really need to get this now. Good review.
jeff the baptist
12/13/2006
09:37AM
yes very good review sir, much better than I would have done if i took it over from you....

...but who's this derrick guy and how did he pass away? im not too up on that story...
Bukkakeface
12/13/2006
09:44AM
Age: 32
Location
Telford, PA
Derrick was the old drummer for Lagwagon. He left the band for some reason or another, and Cape started Bad Astronaut pretty much just as an excuse to work with him again. Then last year he shot himself in the head.
aaron
12/13/2006
09:50AM
Age: 33
Location
Atascadero, CA
i wish Shawn never left Lagwagon.. I loved Buck Wild but god damn I loved Trashed/Hoss from Lagwagon.

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Rick Gebhardt
12/13/2006
09:59AM
Age: 33
Location
Minnesota
Trashed and Hoss are so bad ass. I wish I wouldn't have lost those CDs. Thanks, Aaron, now I need to go find them at the local record shop!

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barryscatton
12/13/2006
01:54PM
Age: 32
Location
Philadelphia, PA
This interview explains the relationship Joey had with Derrick pretty well.

http://www.lollipop.com/article.php3?content=2006/06june/f-lagwagon.html

Derrick was also drumming for the newest incarnation of RKL who were planning to record a new record soon. It's such a bummer those guys literally aren't around anymore.

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GO RED SOX!!!!!!!!

Dave Spak
12/13/2006
02:31PM
Location
Boston, MA
I've never been a big Lagwagon fan but this stuff is really good. I'll probably be picking this up soon. great review
LiberationFrequency
12/15/2006
09:55AM
I was curious if a review for this was ever gonna pop up or if this album was gonna go overlooked. I'm glad it didn't, because it's an amazing album.