By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
For his part, Logan finds all this hyperbolic critical activity a big hoot. "It's really strange," he says in his pleasant drawl. "We're just sitting here laughing. I mean, our lives haven't changed a bit. When we see a huge article, like the Billboard thing, we think it's some joke somebody's playing on us."
A joke it may be, but Bulk is not funny, at least not in the ha-ha sense. There are laughs, but they are the subtle type, the smile that clever wordplays and smart story songs can bring. For example, "Female Jesus," with a melody that'll carry you home, is a sort of twisted love story and character study: "Female Jesus don't walk on water/Lives in town, she's a drunkard's daughter/Uses manners that her mother taught her/No one taught her/To walk the streets with me." The song begins with one of the most bizarre (and smile-inducing) lyrics around: "Want to drink your blood/Want to wash your feet/Want to feed you every meal/Like it's the last you'll ever eat."
While Logan might be a songwriter's songwriter, don't try telling him that. "I try not to have it complicated to where you try to do these Dylanesque things," he says. "You run into trouble doing that unless you're Dylan." Logan, in fact, isn't even sure where some of these strange/sad/blissful constructions come from. "I'd have to sit down and think about it. I could write a thesis on it. Or [he chuckles] I might be pressed to get a paragraph." He savors the notion that these tunes will be interpreted in different ways by different listeners. "Some of the meanings to others are better than what you had in mind."
So what does Bulk sound like? Everything. Two songs sound a bit like Charlie Pickett. ("Charlie Pickett?" says Logan. "I don't -- wait, did he have a band called the Eggs in the early Eighties? Real gritty stuff?") One uses a Rolling Stones chord progression. ("Oh, man, Aftermath. And I remember I had Exile on Main Street on a pink eight-track in my '65 Chevy, the brakes were about to go.") There's some sort-of R.E.M. ("They cast a big shadow 'round here.") Certain vocals are like a calm David Byrne. And Vic Chesnutt, who performs a duet with Logan. ("Vic's one of the most amazing songwriters I know.")
Logan is being compared, often in the same breath, to everyone from Jim Morrison to Alex Chilton to Mark Eitzel of the American Music Club. There's a hard-core blues song. Along with Flannery O'Connor and Hunter S. Thompson (whose influences are obvious throughout the discs), Logan thanks in the liner notes McKinley Morganfield (known to most as Muddy Waters). That's kind of what some of Logan's songs sound like.
And Logan pulls it off with such charming, Southern panache that the potential swirl of rock stardom seems wholly irrelevant. Enabler Kelly Keneipp, who has known Logan since high school and musically conspired with him nearly that long, describes the alleged savant this way: "He's crazy. He's a genius." And is Keneipp ready for critical slobbering? "Can anybody be ready for it? If that happens, we're as ready as we'll ever be. It's kind of thrust on you, and we're not going to resist."
A tour isn't planned for at least several months, but Logan and company are moving right along. "We've been writing a bunch of stuff," Logan says. "I'm so baffled at this point I have a hard time believing we'll make a second record."
That, perhaps, is where the enablers will come in. "I call 'em that," Logan explains, "because without them I probably would have wised up long ago and concentrated on something else. But I've enjoyed every minute of it. If you ask what's the bad part, I'd say there is no bad part. Right now, there's all these little legal things, the music business part, so we're getting a taste of bad things, but I'm sure it'll all work out. If all this ends tomorrow, if this is a fluke, if the second record sucks, it's been worth it."
Fuck everything if you must. But don't miss this album.