So we're left with a record of Hootie meets name-some-Seventies-FM band. For their ages and experience (young and not that much), Shippey, guitarist Charlie Rivera, and drummer Sean Bauzay are among the most talented and tasteful musicians working this market. Radio Smoke Box is one of the most well-crafted recordings released by a local act this year, and it affirms Y's shot at the big leagues. All well and good. But to see why Y deserves superstardom, catch the threesome in concert. Before they win their first Grammy.
The rap on Julian Cope is that he's some sort of acid casualty caught up in a navel-gaze so deep that his records continue to leap into a zone where no one else goes, or would care to go. But for those keeping closer tabs, it's generally acknowledged that Cope's been spending the past few years holed up in his studio creating a series of albums beyond expectation.
Since 1991's Peggy Suicide reinvented Cope as a modern psychedelic guru with a tighter rein on his loopy impulses, the Brit has kept his nose to the grindstone and poured forth a glut of material that's above mockery. Peggy Suicide, Jehovahkill, Autogeddon, 20 Mothers, and now Interpreter (available for nearly a year in Britain) could be considered the longest song cycle ever attempted.
For Interpreter, Cope again uses the schematic of short, concise pop songs mixed with lengthier, trippier excursions. He has never been exactly timely; part of his charm has always been his bizarre anachronism. And nowhere is that more evident than on "I've Got My TV and My Pills," Cope's ode to middle-class consumption. Its aim is true, and typically late as hell.
This adherence to an out-of-synch internal clock works two-fold: It cancels Cope's bid for mainstream success while stoking critical appreciation. Only the critics, and a small band of fellow druids, have kept up with his prodigious output. Which seems to be how Cope prefers it. Interpreter is not, however, his finest hour. The disc constitutes his homage to the improvisational Krautrock of the early Seventies, with which he has been obsessed since his teenage years. But where Tangerine Dream and other Krautrock acts were innovative, Cope's imitation sounds a bit too studied, and his songs meander beyond trippiness into numbing self-indulgence. There's still plenty to unearth here. Cope is, almost despite himself, a gifted songwriter. And his voice alone demands a listen. It's a deep, charismatic drone, no matter how bizarre the tales it tells.