Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 - Wormed By Leonard (1988)

Forming music as strange as its genesis, the San Fransisco-based band comprised mostly of Iowans, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 showcased what is likely a reflection of that cross-American migration with their debut cassette, Wormed By Leonard. What comes through is a charming, very poppy example of the experimental "indie" rock that gained notoriety from, most famously, bands like Sun City Girls.
Which is why it's no surprise that TFUL282 later joined them on the San Francisco-based Amarillo records as well as nationwide tours. On here we get the comparison often. From the intro we're introduced to the mentality that groups them in that brand of post-punk. It's Seven is an abrasive little piece, not really accomplishing much outside of an impression of the members making an album just to put mind to matter.
And that's much like this entire album. One gets a real sense of a band making music for their own enjoyment. Little bits of humor and personality jump in and out of their broken pop hits, which is first highlighted right out of the gate, with the soft sounding and sweetly named, "Hell Rules" (which was included with it's own cheeky art, which is in the sample I'll include).
And that mostly punk attitude is a very attractive aspect of this band, shown with tons of catchy melodies, a nonsense approach to art and living, and a general lack of regard for what they're "expected to play". Not to say it's serious about that, either. Everything about this is tongue-in-cheek to the point that it's a surprise they find time to project their uber-silly lyrics, like in their epic about walking a deceivingly fierce dog, Nipper.
A remarkable aspect of this music I may have just glanced over is how catchy it is. Throwing in "Western" themes (such as Narlus Spectre's very involved "wild west" rhythms) with the California "outsider" music (not to be confused with the Californina Outside Music Association, which isn't too far away musically) they create a sound that is really quite hard to convey. I suppose that I can only say that the melodies are so natural, it's hard to imagine music this original is this original.
You're likely to hear people exclaim that something like Mother of All Saints or Stranger Than The Universe (or any other of their albums) is the band's best work, but I can't agree. I would never say that they don't deserve the title, but there is an atmosphere about this album that is wholly inviting. It's a charming album that is an output of a band playing music, and not necessarily making an album, if that makes sense. Mostly, Wormed seems like their most personal output, although I'd hate to count the other albums off as "manufactured", as they are far from such. TFUL282 could make a collection of Spice Girl covers and never once come off as impersonal and unnatural. They bleed through their music.

Note: This is the 1995 reissue with 5 extra songs, including the delicious "If I Were In A Shoe" and "Not In The Popply Dimension"


  1. I have 'I Hope It Lands'. I really need to check out more of their work though.

    Good review, will listen to eventually.

  2. I'll check this out. You actually rec'd it to me a while back.

  3. I wouldn't doubt it. I guess the fact that it is incredibly catchy leads me to think that it would appeal to a ton of people. I've rec'd it to plenty of people on the boards.

  4. Thanks!
    Would you publish some Mission Of Burma stuff? :D