Egg-O-Matic – New Jersey EP

New Jersey EP

With under 14 minutes of music, Egg-O-Matic’s asking price of five bucks for its New Jersey EP doesn’t make too much sense when an astute shopper can find a full-length album with nearly more than three times as much music on it for around 12 bucks. And it looks like shipping costs are included in that five dollar charge, so it really isn’t that bad a deal. But it is the quality, not the quantity that should be the determining factor. So, does the quality justify the price for such a short work? Well, that’s debatable, too. The work is hard to judge because of its brevity. I’ve reviewed EPs before, but this one feels somehow shorter than the others even though their playing times are comparable. Certainly, the variety is here. In a short time, this New York duo manages to introduce a pile of interesting sounds, noises, and even songs. You could call this a miniature clearinghouse of ideas for these artists or others to take out and expand in other music. But it’s too much variety in the space given. In each song, introduced rhythms, ideas, and sounds disappear before they are allowed space to develop.
New Jersey features two compositions and two songs. The first track, “The Spring of the Sad Guitar Player,” is an instrumental that blends a syncopated synthesized drum beat (almost like a halftime drum solo by a pep band rhythm section) with a pleasant melody that alternates between organ, acoustic guitar, and fuzzy electric guitars. The song also features and ends with a studio-distorted monologue explaining some of the equipment used in the song and its title. The second number, “Hooky Mix,” sounds like a DJ noodling around on some equipment. There’s an industrial dance beat in the background and various synth noises, talking, and Muppet gurgles and giggles to fill out the sound.
It’s not until the third track that Egg-O-Matic gives us a real song with lyrics and everything. The punk-styled song “New Jersey” swims in distorted guitars and straightforward rock drums. Vocalist Mike Bowman adds a simple but catchy melody for the majority of the song. By the song’s end, Bowman bends his voice increasingly out of tune while the crunching guitars run amok. Finally, in “Commodore,” Bowman croons wistfully and not without a little humor about his old Commodore 64 synthesizer to the gently washing chords of an electric guitar (as in the beginning of Jane’s Addiction’s “Classic Girl”). Incidentally, he raises his voice to Perry Farrell levels in this song as well.
The jury stands hung on this work. Even after repeated listens, it still feels like the disc, and all four songs on it, end before Egg-O-Matic gets a chance to start. “The Spring of the Sad Guitar” works for me. In an odd way, so does the geek charm of “Commodore.” “Hooky Mix” feels incomplete, like the track was laid out nicely but without direction. Conversely, “New Jersey” leaves the blocks in a sprint but can’t seem to reach the finish line coherently. So is New Jersey is worth the five bucks? They certainly know how to tease with promise, but I suggest you hold onto your money and wait for them to put out something a little longer.