Let’s face it, April 26th is going to break you. Between the obligatory New Order album, the latest from cheeky piano player Ben Folds, the three ‘stuffed-to-the-gills’ Cure reissues, the King of America expansion, and the new Mountain Goats record, not to mention the complete Creed (not mentioned for a reason), you might think there’s no just way to squeeze any more dosh out of that meager paycheck from Orange Julius. There’s only so many essential CDs that can be coming out on one particular day, right? You’d be wrong. There’s one more CD you absolutely must throw onto the pile, that being the new Love as Laughter.
You might have heard the name Sam Jayne somewhere. Whether you heard his collaboration with Beck, One Foot in the Grave, were into his earlier band Lync, wondered who that guy was playing with Modest Mouse on SNL, or witnessed his solo work opening up for Sam Beam on the latest Iron & Wine tour, there’s a possibility that you’ve at least had the slightest exposure to a man that I’m on the precipice of calling ‘genius.’ Laughter’s Fifth, in actuality, really their fifth album, and not just a play on Beethoven’s most famous symphony. Jayne, joined by Brandon Angle on bass and Zeke Howard on drums, has created an album that has legs. This work will live on long past the band has since dissolved, finding its niche as an essential indie album.
Songs don’t get much better than the My Morning Jacket meets Tom Petty quality of opener “In Amber,” nor the tongue-in-cheek reverential “Every Midnight Song,” the George Harrison plays with the Dead feel of “Survivors” or the silly early Replacements-era dimensions of “Canal Street.” The first time listening to Laughter’s Fifth, I was reminded of the Grateful Dead, mostly in its sloppy leanings. All the members of Love as Laughter are good musicians, there’s just a loose style to the playing that lends itself to those earlier comparisons. Upon further listens there’s far more depth to the record, you can hear similarities to Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Dios (maybe thanks to the keyboard playing of Dios collaborator Miguel Mendez), Kinks, Dire Straits and other great bands.
Jayne’s lyrics are also wonderfully witty, such as in “In Amber,” where he sings:
I was all frozen,
Did you see me as Encino Man?
Did you like me at the popsicle stand?
Will you love me when I thaw out?
These are not anomalous. Lyrics as colorful and sharp as this appear throughout the album. It’s not everyday that an album has a little bit of everything you like, even rarer when that album blows you away with its originality, and even rarer when that album comes out on the same day as a handful of other great music. So, do what you need to do, work extra hours, pull in some overtime, max out the credit card, sell your old Nirvana CDs (let’s face it, how long has it been since you really listened to any of them? I know it’s a form of sacrilege, but then again so is not owning Laughter’s Fifth), but whatever you do, add this album to your CD shopping list. You’ll thank yourself later.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps
My Morning Jacket – It Still Moves
Dios – Dios