Barbed suburbia, anti-psychotics and kazoos are all parts of the sonic maelstrom that Will Wood and The Tapeworms have unleashed with their debut album Everything is a Lot. This experimental collective from Glenn Rock, New Jersey has one thing in mind: breaking your perceptions. Throughout Everything is A Lot, tracks bounce back and forth from angry and vile to calm and ethereal, like the record itself is an experiment in bi-polar stream-of-consciousness. Will Wood and The Tapeworms’ puckish anti-folk proves that there are original voices out there that cannot be pigeonholed into just one genre. It’s a sound that is so tongue-in-cheek that it’s burrowing through the other side. You have no idea what you’re in for when you listen to this: the best way to appreciate Everything is a Lot is to listen with open ears and an open mind.
The album’s opening track “6up 5Oh Cop-Out (Pro/Con)” begins the whole affair with what sounds like a scene from a retro cop drama, but later drops the listener into the sonic vibes of a drowsy speakeasy. The musical persona of frontman Will Woods is similarly contradictory: the listener hears shades of Serj Tankian and Dick Valentine in his style. He wields a kazoo as if it were his Tetsusaiga. The a steady theme here is of inner/self versus outer/world.
The chaotic single “Chemical Overreaction / Compound Fracture” crackles with an untamable energy. It also has one of my favorite choruses of this year, which the listener should take in: “Till the sunrise dies and sets in the west, a rattlesnake bite and a bullet in my chest. I won’t stop to drop to draw a line in the sand, ‘cause I’ll be picked apart to pieces by coyotes, I’m a lizard in the hand of the medicine man who is the wizard of the land on wild peyote.” With Wood’s frantic vocals and lyrics that evoke such vivid imagery, this is definitely where my comparison to Tankian and Valentine is most apt.
With strong production value and musical composition present, it would be easy to believe after hearing their musical debut that Will Wood and The Tapeworms were seasoned members of a long standing collective. But this nascent group is severe, raving and ready to shred. Everything is a Lot is a record sometimes about fighting to survive and sometimes about coasting through the rough gruff of life, and the group showcases their kinetic energy throughout. At the end of the day, this is the right kind of wonky experience.