Friday, October 1, 2010

Margaret Cho - Cho Dependent (2010)

Margaret Cho - Cho Dependent (2010, Clownery Records)
Genre: Comedy (music, not spoken-word)

Who knew Margaret Cho could sing? Her new album isn't stand-up; it's funny songs, in the vein of Flight of the Conchords or Stephen Lynch. She's collaborated with an all-star cast here, including Ani DiFranco, Ben Lee, Andrew Bird (who saw that one comin'?) and Jon Brion, among others.

The album is fun and enjoyable, and as mentioned, Cho can sing (and belt!) nicely. The lyrics are often weak and sometimes downright bad, but musically, the songs are so enjoyable that I didn't care. It also helps that the genres Cho chooses to pastiche the most -- '70s pop and rock, country/folk -- are genres I love. But she also twirls through hip-hop, dance, torch songs, anthems... With a soul-inflected ballad called, "Your Dick," a torch song called "Eat Shit and Die," and a hidden track called "Lesbian Escalation," how can you go wrong?

Lyrically, the strongest songs are the Heart-esque "Baby, I'm With The Band," about the joys of groupie-dom, "I'm Sorry," a country song and murder ballad (featuring Andrew Bird), and my favorite, the hidden track, which I'll come back to.

Some songs seem intended to be songs-in-earnest first, with a little bit of humor. I think it takes guts for a comedian to do that. The opener, a collaboration with Tegan & Sara called "Intervention," is like this. So is the sweet, if lyrically weak, country-folk duet "Hey Big Dog," featuring Fiona Apple.

Other standouts include "Your Dick"; the jazzy, torchy "Eat Shit And Die"; a chilly '80s dance number that winks at David Bowie's "China Girl" where the narrator tries to determine the ethnic makeup of a person she decides is "Asian Adjacent"; the electro/disco "Gimme Your Seed," about lesbians in search of a sperm donor; and "Enemies" (featuring Jon Brion), a break-up song that recalls "You're So Vain."

My hands-down favorite is the hidden track, "Lesbian Escalation" (featuring Rachael Yamagata), a sing-a-long, Broadway-ish anthem about the dangers of U-Hauling. Please make this song go viral. It's awesome.

RIYL: dirty jokes, queer themes, catchy music, awesomeness.

Lesbian Escalation (f. Rachael Yamagata)
Baby I'm With The Band (f. Brendan Benson)
Your Dick (f. Ben Lee)
Eat Shit And Die (f. Grant Lee Phillips)

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