Brian Michael Roff – Errors Intact EP

Brian Michael Roff
Errors Intact EP

For a lo-fi self-release, Errors Intact sounds really polished and professional. Roff plays all the instruments here. The EP is a VERY limited edition 5-song EP and apparently a preview of an upcoming album. It will appeal to fans of art-damaged indie folk and pop in the vein of an artist like Vic Chesnutt. And in fact, the very first line of the first song seems to take a page from the Chesnutt school of internal realization: “I don’t mean to be a jerk / it’s just the way things work / not sorry because it happens.”
We here at Delusions of Adequacy World Headquarters are looking forward to hearing the upcoming album, as we already enjoy listening to this EP over and over while we guzzle champagne and roll around in all the money we make as high powered rock critics. The fact that we listen to it over and over is based on two facts: A) the undeniable quality of the songs, and B) the agonizingly brief running time of this record: 15 and a half minutes. Roff’s website implies that the full-length release may feature beefed up versions of these songs:
“…the songs are five demos I had planned to put on my forthcoming album, The Sweet Science, with fuller arrangements. As they stood, I felt they were fully realized as demos, so I decided to release them as an EP. Of course I may decide to give them a real big send-up for the album, and the EP will just become an interesting document.”
The EP is already an interesting document – two editions of 25 copies, the first batch designed by Roff himself, and the second by Automatic Expansion Project, a design company that Roff is associated with (and may in fact control; facts are hazy) – the packaging features all kinds of nifty handmade treats. It can be ordered through the website for $6, and while we’re not really in the business of selling records around here (at least not so directly), Errors Intact is good enough that just this once we’re stretching the rules. And because chances are you’re not going to find this one down at Sam Goody.
On several of the tracks, Roff’s voice takes on kind of a Tom Petty feel, as though that singer ditched his Heartbreakers gig and joined forces with the kids in Sebadoh. In particular, the last song, “The Insignificant Marine,” has a great epic quality (single, lonely acoustic guitar and beautiful, poetic lyrics) that makes me actually wonder for a moment what might happen if Lou Barlow got all classic rock on us.
On another song (“Pull the Plastic Back”), Roff uses a droney keyboard underneath his guitar to create a gorgeous, rhythmically halting lullaby that puts me in mind of Damien Jurado. The middle section expands to include a fuzzy guitar line and jingle bells, which the careful listener will hear rattling, off to the side, in a couple of places before it comes in for real, which I strongly believe indicates the presence of Santa Claus at the recording sessions. There’s really no other rational explanation.
One of the weirder songs is “We Looking Forward,” which is supported almost entirely by a solitary plucked banjo and vocals that sound like they were recorded through a tube. I think this one is my favorite track here, mainly because it sounds like back porch hillbilly music for the chemically deranged. And that just takes me back to my youth, you know?
So. Yeah, a short review of a short record, but an unequivocal shout of support to Brian Michael Roff. In a better society, a song like “This Thick World” would be a giant radio hit, and folks this obviously talented wouldn’t have to work day jobs at the car wash* just to pay the rent. You should go immediately (as soon as you finish reading the rest of DOA, of course) over to his website and order a copy of Errors Intact. You’ve got to hurry, though, because he didn’t make that many. And a record this good is bound to go quickly.