Jesus, what a brilliant thing for Feeding Tube to reissue this album on vinyl. Once a cassette and digital release via Autumn Records, “Fresh Sip” is here given a beautiful 12″ 2xLP treatment, each side of the record exploring a different corner of Weisman’s idiosyncratic psyche, which manifests itself through his monstrously impossible to entirely understand chord progressions, bizarre and brilliant turns of lyrical phrase, etc., etc., etc. I thought “Transparency” was going to turn out to be the essential CW release, and “Fresh Sip,” now that it’s spinning on my turntable, has changed all that. Don’t get me wrong – anything Chris Weisman related is worth checking out, but this album seems to creep to the top. I might dare to call it a masterpiece.
Things start off with “Saved in Chats,” which has to be one of the greatest pop songs written in the past ten years (or at least has the one of the best choruses of the past ten years). From there the adventures find incredibly groovy moments of groove, like “999″ and the waltz “Open Tuning.” Some of his best and most beautiful ballad work is here as well; “Apple Season,” with its lulling hand-clap-accompaniment, “Yen You” and its cubist harmonies, or “Midi Van” and its gorgeous melody. Also there’s a share of bizarre outliers like “I Don’t Care Again,” which features a micro-gallop of rhythm and off-metered song structure—moments of off-kilter craziness to be found as the vinyl grooves whir past. There’s just never a dull, boring moment. That is, each and every of these moments on the record will bring something new and curious to your musical world.
Sometimes (sometimes) I wish Chris would just break down and hire a band with some real technical skill – I keep hearing lots of insane drum fills where he sticks to super simple skeletal beats and lo-fi recording approaches instead. But ultimately a criticism like this is worthless when pitted against how ingenious Weisman is with every other element of his music. He channels so many greats in experimental pop music here, from Brian Wilson to John Lennon to Elliott Smith and back again, all the while adding that lightly avant-jazz touch and remaining undeniably modern and relevant in 2012. His entire skill-palate is on display, utilizing guitar, synth, light drumming, his meek and shyly seductive voice, and a 4-track to get very complex ideas across using simple tools. He’s also got some of the most aggressive playing I’ve heard from any of his previous work here, especially guitar with some seriously ripping solos (see “Open Tuning,” especially).
I feel kind of bad this one made it into my Foxy box this time around, because I am obviously biased. I’ve reviewed everything new I’ve gotten my hands on from Chris Weisman, not to mention interviewed the guy right here on Foxy Digitalis sometime last year, remember? Bias? Yeah, I guess, if that thinking he’s the best living songwriter (right up there with Dan Bejar, dudes) today is having a bias. Yeah, I’m biased as fuck. Chris Weisman on vinyl man, are you seriously not going to buy this? Should we fight about it?