Day 235 – #159. Heidecker & Wood – Starting From Nowhere

Heidecker & Wood - Starting From Nowhere Album Review

Say what you will about avant-garde, so-called “anti-comedy” or experimental humor, but one must admit that it is, at the very least, an attempt to do something different.

Whether or not you think Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are funny, or Neil Hamburger, or even the surreal world that is Weird Twitter, whatever it may be – for every 10 fans of Jay Leno or Dane Cook out there, there’s one who can’t get enough of Key & Peele or Frisky Dingo.

Sure, the quantity of fans of alternative comedy doesn’t match up to, I don’t know, Daniel Tosh? (who else is a popular comedian these days?), but the quality of their fandom is second to none. And I’m not just talking about the people who go to Comic Con, because those people… are nutty (looking at you, cosplayers).

So it should go without saying that, when Tim Heidecker teamed with Awesome Show, Great Job! composer Davin Wood, to work on a 70s soft/yacht rock album, hilarity would ensue. What I was not expecting is that a lot of these songs, no matter their silly thematic content, are actually really freakin’ good.

I don’t know why I was so surprised then, from the onset of Starting From Nowhere’s opener “Cross Country Skiing,” which begins with Heidecker and Wood coming onstage at a theatre show to applause, thanking the audience, and then launching into the song to more applause. The track chronicles a day of joyful skiing, including “Coffee in (his) belly” to “keep him warm,” but ends with an unfortunate skiing accident, all set to smooth dad rock. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds, but on a level that appears to be 100% serious.

Elsewhere, Heidecker laments morality (“Right or Wrong”), the Grand Canyon (“Grandest Canyon”), the struggle of being in a band on tour (“Life on the Road”), a fatal DUI (“Weatherman”), and yes, even relationship punctuality (“Right to the Minute”).

The album culminates with the tremendous “Million People,” where Heidecker gets all philosophical over an epic Elton John/”We Are the World” style chorus, in a way that only he can:

These are the days when we have to be asking questions
What are the questions we ask when we’re asking questions?
These are the days when we have to be asking questions
What are the questions we ask when we’re asking questions?
Who asks the questions after all?

It’s absurd and goofy, but it’s brilliant on multiple levels: the fact that, even though it’s technically a comedy themed album, the musicality is on par with, say, Flight of the Conchords. As in, genuine talent. As in, you can actually listen to it more than a few times. As in, there’s no hiding behind hokey gimmicks or shticks.

The joke is only on those who choose not to understand it.

From Starting From Nowhere, check out the sexy saxophone stylings on “A Song For My Father” –

Standout tracks: I’m obsessed with all of it, but especially “Right or Wrong,” “Weatherman,” “Right to the Minute” and “Christmas Suite”
Weakest track: No.

RIYL: Yacht rock. The Eagles. The JASH Network. Dr. Steve Brule.

Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/starting-from-nowhere/id416666813

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