Doubling down on the zany, beer-battered inflorescence of past projects such as Mongoose
Thompson and Nodding Tree Remedies, Thomas Mudrick and the Silvertron Youth Choir take
the more hilariously warped happenstances of previous projects and turn them up to 11 with Our God is a Possum God, the newest release from Mudrick and his Silverton, Oregon based crew of merry pranksters. As with the aforementioned projects, as well as the prodigious and ever-expanding back-catalogue of Thomas Mudrick’s own solo records (most recently 2013’s (((boing))) and 2014’s Abiqua), Our God is a Possum God draws listeners into a web of sprightly, imaginative musical vortices that follow none but their own internal piper. With the Silvertron Youth Choir, Mudrick and longtime co-conspirator and drum whiz Ian Hartley (The Shivas) cobble together a gem of a record that’s both hilarious and strange, often at once.
Silvertron Youth Choir isn’t short on inanity, assembling what could at times be described as
children’s music made for (and seemingly by) mightily stoned adults; a pinwheeling, day-
tripping, hipping and hopping, skipping and jumping ramble through the worm hole into a range
of delightfully visual and guffaw-inducing ditties tackling all manner of subjects, such as: pies
made of whiskey and bacon, soda pop downloading computer programs for rednecks, water
spider birds on the tundra, philosophical mayonnaise, peanut butter trains, cosmic hybrid
creatures riding forklifts, pamplemooses, and, as a lyrical coup-de-grace of sorts, Justin Bieber
mounted triumphantly atop a giant rodent.
If all that sounds like an earful of nonsense, it is, and that’s the point, son. The crux of Silvertron Youth Choir’s tune-wrangling is in their ability to spool out numbers that make liberal use of deft musicianship and pop/folk song craft while remaining ridiculously irreverent and often wickedly funny, eliciting a sense not unlike those uncontrollable belly laughs one gets after too many bong rips. As with so much of Thomas Mudrick’s past work, Our God is a Possum God is firmly indebted to the Old Masters’ use of dada-inspired non-sequitur as a way to contort the quotidian nature of mainstream pop and rock: early Beck, Zappa, Ween, the Residents, They Might Be Giants, etc, etc.
With Silvertron Youth Choir, Mudrick and company seem to be making even more of a nod to the later, child-friendly brand of tunes penned by They Might Be Giants, albeit with a less science-oriented didactic, favoring instead a literate yet firmly acid-spazz, adolescent, keg-stand bent without getting all frat house and shell necklace about it. In fact, one could make the argument that Our God is a Possum God could well be mother’s day out music for the millennial burner set, as the imagery, while warped, is (mostly) scrubbed of excessively off-color topics, kind of like the past decade’s spate of Cartoon Network programming geared to both child and parent alike (for further reflection, take a listen to the animated Oregon Trail swagger of “Peanut Butter Train”). Perhaps best of all, as with kids and sunshine and all that good stuff, Our God is a Possum God often comes off as remarkably life affirming with its predilections toward silly, ecstatic strangeness, lacking any hint of the navel-gazing, ego aggrandizing, or stylistic self consciousness that permeates and permutes much of
what passes for modern pop.
Fans of Thomas Mudrick’s previous output will immediately feel at home with Silvertron Youth Choir’s use of slightly demented jumbles of paisley-colored country folk, urban beatisms, jamboree rock’n’roll jingle jangle, and weirded out soundscapes. Like so many of Mudrick’s previous releases, Our God is a Possum God hops and jumps from one style and sound to another, opening as it does with the air raid rhyming back and forth of “Spaceship Sunlight”, the DMT guitar folk of “Whiskey Pie”, the carnivalesque shuffles of “Pet the Little Birds”, and the drunken hip hop Renaissance Faire allusions of “Pamplemoose” (where one can “relax in the grass with my wiener in a snake hole”). And that’s just the first four songs.
Collaborating with a cast of characters familiar to both Mudrick’s catalogue as well as followers
of his Portland-based Ten Dollar Recording Company label, Silvertron Youth Choir isn’t short on talent. To wit, the lyrical zig zags between Mudrick, Kevin Lierman, Grady Hopkins, and William Sisk on “Justin Bieber on a Beaver”, or the hilarious Deliverance meets Carl Sagan dialogue between Mudrick and Ian Hartley on “Sector 2”. Hartley lets loose with a barrage of country-fried rhythm as Dustin Doyle rocks a mean jaw harp on “Ordiano”, while Mateo Alden offers piano and vocal work on the psychedelic sing-along Crocodile Hunter mock up “Elijah”. Closing out the album, the lo-fi island fuzz lullaby of “Gary And The Foxes” features Gary Fox on ukulele and Alex and Zoe Fox on vocals.
Silvertron Youth Choir’s Our God is a Possum God is yet another feather in the cap for Mudrick
and his band of musical day-trippers, who can’t seem to stop cranking out unique and quality
records. Out July 28, 2015 on Portland’s Ten Dollar Recording Company. (Press Release by: Reed Burnam)