PICNIC TOOL: "EINSTEIN" - CHARM AND ARTISTIC CREATIVITY
August 15, 2017
Picnic Tool is a band based out of Orange, CA, with rotating membership. Bodie Plecas is singer and songwriter, who plays guitars, keyboards, and harmonica. Goffrey Moore played bass (and lead guitar on title track), and also produced the EP “Einstein”. Larry Aberman, who performs on three songs, has played with A-list artists such as Nile Rogers, Wynton Marsalis, Ben Harper and Joe Sample, among others. Joseph Moore plays drums on “About Gurls”. I’m going to start by confessing that I barely had my first listen a week ago and have only listened to it a total of three times. But trust me when I say I can distinguish an average record from an outstanding one. This, of course, is an outstanding one. Right from my very first listen, “Einstein” skyrocketed into my sphere of favorites.
But what makes it so special? Charm and artistic creativity. These are simple qualities lacking in a period that seems to be more obsessed with making technically mind-blowing productions instead of artistically creative ones. These songs were recorded in rehearsal rooms and bedrooms, in no more than two takes – “To maintain spontaneity and adrenaline,” says Goff.
The recording has melodic vocal phrasing, smart lyrics, crunchy overdriven guitars and driving rhythms…and just look at the EP cover. These things serve not just to bring a smile upon your face, but to bring out the nonconformity lacking in its contemporaries. This is what make the music and this band so special.
Of course the most impressive thing about this little homemade masterpiece is its complete lack of filler. It only has four tracks, so filler would be hard to come by you’re thinking. But even if this was a mega 40 track triple album, I’m sure that there would be no filler. Picnic Tool sound like a band that eschews excess. There are very few recordings that I have listened to where I can honestly say that each piece is just as good as the whole.
But this one’s different. Every song on here is absolutely incredible, from the catchy single “Einstein” to the eclectic closer “…About Gurls”. If I were to review each separate track, they would all get five stars, except for “Chinese Heart” and “I Love The Truth”, for which I would reserve six or seven stars.
When listening to this for the first time, I realized just how important this kind of music should be to the history of the industry. This is like the “Doolittle”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “Fun House” or “Velvet Underground & Nico” of its time. In the sense of being a recording that strays away from the successful routines of its peers and attempts to live by, and of its own ways.
At its core “Einstein” has a very garage rock sound with banging drums and ripping guitars, some nice hooks and complementing vocals. Every song just sounds sincere, unique, and recognizable, and in today’s sonic supermarket overflowing with elevator music that is an awesome achievement indeed!
POPROCK RECORD May 1, 2017
We torque up the rock quotient with selections from Picnic Tool’s tart and saucy EP Einstein. The title track is a talky, rumbly rock workout full of hilarious asides, while “Chinese Heart” has a more spare sound, held together by a strong, hooky lead guitar line. By comparison “I Love the Truth” sounds more conventional if only because it features actual singing along with some nice harmonica breaks, built on a great neo-1950s music bed. Things wrap up with the fun “… About Gurls,” a crisp new wavey number full of super riffs. And then, it’s over. Even for an EP Einstein ends all too soon.
PICNIC TOOL 'Einstein': 'Chinese heart is best song of the year - anywhere!
May 18. 2017
Bodie Plecas releases the Einstein EP, which sounds fresher, and more exciting, then anything else out there.
Based in California, Bodie’s band Picnic Tool was formed around the bedrooms of its early lineup in the early 90s. While various musicians complemented the line-up Bodie remained as its central and only permanent figure.
One time music critique and feature writer, Bodie taught himself the craft of Beatlesque composition locked away in his bedroom with a Tascam four-track recorder and several gently-weeping guitars. The output would become the original Einstein EP released in 1996 which Bodie describes as “’Love Me Do’ drunk on rocket fuel.”
Tracks from the EP have made it into several indie movies including the Jordan Ellis film A Little Bit Crazy and the Charles M. Solomon film, The Last Fair Deal.
This digital release is part of a mission to record a full-length album in Nashville this year.
Einstein EP review
This four song EP starts with its punchy Einstein title track. Musically it’s like an appointment between a strutting, screeching 90s indie rebel with the very same Taxman made infamous by the Beatles. The central irresistible rock motif is its boy from the wrong side of the tracks “I ain’t no Einstein baby, but I’m mad about you”.
Chinese Heart is the best song I have heard this year anywhere. (And I’ve heard some good ones.) The streaming sunshine of its bright opening fuzzy riff is counterpoised with Bodie’s deadpan spoken verse lamenting an asymmetric love affair (“a tapestry of broken dreams…so much lost so quick”). This shimmering two-chord drone leads into the heartbeat-skipping, delayed gratification of a perfect chorus closure. This is what the New Romantics would have sounded like if they listened to Velvet Underground.
Bodie says that in the early days he tried to restrict himself to only two chords per song. However, just as Shakespeare shrugged off the wrought-irons manacles of iambic pentameter, Bodie discovered novel harmonies in a Beatles songbook and offers up the extra chords “for free”.
I Love The Truth is as openhearted and reverent as Let It Be relished with the beautifully brash drawl of a Dylan harmonica suspended over its wholesome cadences. The bridge is pure Beatles magic with a sudden drop-chord into a Pixies romantic minor to catch you unawares.
…About Gurls is gloriously shambolic with enough attitude to propel Picnic Tool into the Britpop “big four” of its era. The theme is as universal as it gets in the history of art – boys dig girls – but with this time with rocket-fuelled swagger.
Bodie gives this quote, attributed posthumously to Albert Einstein, which for me captures the essence of what he achieved with this EP: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
I love great music so I may be a little biased but this Einstein EP is just sublime.