RPM - Irrational Anthem
by Tim Byrnes
Is That You?
The women who goes by the name RPM is #1
with a bullet aimed straight at my rock and roll heart. She got a Degree
in Epic Lit from N.Y.U. and plays a Les
Paul Junior, THE rock and roll guitar.
A combination of brains, brawn and nerve doesn't show up in my CD changer
that often and when it comes in the service of pissed-off musings on the
big questions (god, man, life, death, bob, ray) like it does on Irrational
Anthem, then so much the better.
The CD opens going for the throat of god
(always a good place to start, in my book) with Goddamnit, where our heroine
settles the hash of organized religion with the deathless line " I'm not
born again, I got it right the first time". Case closed and....uh, amen
to that. She also gets bonus points for rhyming Jesus' with diseases',
as in Don't buy into Jesus, he won't cure your diseases'. Brilliant! And
the fact that she spits out her convictions in a voice as raggedly beautiful
as Patti Smith or Paul Westerberg is icing on the cake.
The guitars go bang, and RPM is no guitar
model, the woman can play her axe off. (Sorry, couldn't resist). On Can't
Take Me Anywhere' she articulates a disappointment in our LCD culture neatly
and precisely when she sings ...one size fits all/but your brain is too
small...' She harangues the average person, and by that I take her meaning
to be all of us who have been letting it all go wrong for so long now,
to ..be anyone else but you.' on Don't Be You'. Far from a blanket indictment
of human uselessness, I think what RPM is doing is challenging the average
person (that is: me and you) to reach out and fulfill our own potential
and not buy into the myth that one person can't make a difference.
Not to say that this is all an episode
of Up With People' in punk rock drag. In Talk You Down', a searing ode
to personal responsibility that will, I expect, be written up erroneously
as a call to suicide. What RPM sings of here is the annoyance factor involved
when someone continually whines about their life, but does nothing to change
it but threaten suicide to friends, expecting them to talk him/her out
of it. RPM decided not to validate such wastes of time and simply calls
their bluff. I'm recommending', she sings, an unhappy ending to your
misery.' Elsewhere in the song she passes the responsibility for sinking
or swimming to the person wallowing in the shallow end of the gene pool
when she states I won't stop you/ I won't prop you up...go ahead and
The line that stopped me in my tracks,
and yes, it's a line I wish I had written, is on the closing track Happy
Song'. RPM speaks to the confusion of a person who, surrounded by a happy
life and loving family, still finds so much missing and, having been bombarded
by violent, mind poisoning images from day one, decides that sometimes
you got to do something even if it's wrong. She sings I want to write
a happy song/one that I could sing for my Mom/instead I read how to build
a bomb.' God bless America, huh?
Produced and co-written by Frank Gryner
(Rob Zombie, A Perfect Circle), Irrational Anthem is a well-crafted, thought
provoking debut from an artist who bears watching.
RPM is no flavor of the week pop-star (though
there's nothing wrong with that, oh yes there is but never mind...) trying
to free you from your cash and offering fluff in return. Irrational Anthem
marks a healthy return to rock that thinks while it rocks and heralds the
debut of an artist with a lot worthwhile on her mind, the courage to speak
it and the chops to make you play air guitar and jump around the room.
Buy this CD and support art with heart, game with brain and politics you
can dance to. Brilliant!
- Irrational Anthem
2. Can't Take Me Anywhere
3. Don't Be You
4. Girl Next Door
5. Liquid You
6. Unlike Me
7. If I Had a Rock Band
8. Talk You Down
9. Play God
11. A Happy Song
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