People Dick/Sam Zurick - Cock Uh Doodle Doo Released February 25th, 2007
Fanaticism usually leads me down the path of a collector. Days upon weeks I’ve spent searching to complete discographies; scraping together the necessary cash in order to do so. Such is the case with Modest Mouse, The Promise Ring, and more recently Joan of Arc. For a full realization of a band’s growth, you must find the band’s beginning and end to truly see their progression documented correctly and more importantly – where they came from to see how they are today. Not everything is so easy to put two and two together, however. If you would’ve asked me where former caP’n Jazz bassist and Joan of Arc multi-instrumentalist, Sam Zurick, would be today, People Dick would be the last place I’d choose. Not because of quality, because Jeebus knows this man is too talented to not be a part of something great. Simply, rather, because of Cock Uh Doodle Doo’s far-out instrumentation and unorthodox methods of artistic unity. Consider Cock Uh Doodle Doo the proverbial “adult swim” to People Dick’s previous release, Flower Power?. Sam’s solo debut was amazing in its own right, but this time around it’s more conceptualized. Following a cracked out day at Zorthian Ranch, a real locale in which Zurick stayed for around a month, Cock Uh Doodle Doo aims to take daily activities (“Long Walk for Coffee”, “Work”) and put them to wholly amazing soundtracks. Whether this involves humorous dialogue (“Awake”) or guitar-based instrumentals (“Probably Nothing”), Sam successfully creates the best album that nobody saw coming.
Using what seems like a countless array of instruments and electronic pops, stutters, and claps, I’ve never found myself so pleased with so much. Each song is so much like serving up a plate at a Pot Luck; you really never know what you’re going to get, save for Sam’s arrangement expertise and lighthearted, uncanny trimmings. It’s all placed on Sam’s general unrelenting charm that pulls it all together. Take the previously mentioned “Awake” for example. Taking its place as the middleman between the moody, almost weightless, opener “Asleep” and the quirky “Things to Do?!?”, it is composed of a conversation between Sam, a farmer (I assume) at the ranch, and some chickens and goats. As lame as it sounds on paper, it humanizes Zurick…an artist who nearly disembodies himself from any familiar musical structure heard since throughout Cock Uh Doodle Doo. Truth be told, I myself was surprised to hear, “I took a ballpoint pen and stuck it in my eye-eye-eyeball/Stuck with a ballpoint pen in my eye/Laid on the ground and pointed to the sky” from “Human Sundial”, but it all becomes so memorable and utterly addictive that I fail to care whether it’ll hold relevance to first-time listeners to Zurick or this style in particular.
Coming from a reviewer who hates to play favorites, I must say that “Probably Nothing” is one of my top picks from the album. It’s the least involved musically, save “Awake” I guess, but the acoustic line Sam maps out is mesmerizing in a way; entrancing you with jangly bridges and bouncy rides the rest of the way through. The song before is notable as well, speaking of “Something in My Yard?!?!” I honestly don’t know where to start with this track. If my descriptions hold their own, you’ll find a “conversation” between a 911 operator and Sam (I presume) set through the narration of someone seemingly on acid. All of the latter set to poppy electronics and the occasional guitar make it the oddest track on the album, but one that carries the storyline of the album farther than its simple roots established with “Awake”. Listeners will also welcome “Long Walk For Coffee” and its keyboard/synth backing a graceful guitar crescendo before settling into Sam’s signature “noodling”, as its been described. “Time For a Drink or 2” is another personal favorite of mine, once again utilizing a selection of electronics, synths, guitars, and Sam’s concerned vocals exclaiming, “Would you please stop eating that phone/We need that thing to dial out/A way to get ourselves home”. And of course, “Goodnight” topping the album off perfectly, closing with a seven minute cut that has been known to be put on repeat on my iPod, speaking volumes on its soothing guitar harmonies and the occasional flute.
It’s so refreshing to hear an album such as Cock Uh Doodle Doo, especially in today’s crop of rehashed material. There’s no doubt People Dick isn’t for everyone, but maybe in a perfect world we’d see more appreciation for an artist exploring new areas of the spectrum. Sam Zurick is such an artist. Whether delving into an untapped guitar style in Make Believe, pushing the boundaries of avant-garde/indie-rock in Joan of Arc, or even diverging down a different path as we just learned…musicians such as this are few and far between.