Uncle Bonsai

2001: Yellow Tail Records YT-10017

  1. 20th Century Man
  2. The Reunion Song
  3. I Love You, I Love You, I Love You, I Love You, I Love You, I Love You, I’m Trying to Read
  4. The Letter
  5. Doug’s Divorce
  6. Just One Angel
  7. You Call That a Hat
  8. I Awoke in Iowa
  9. Doug’s Birthday Song
  10. Iowa Apology Song
  11. I Owe You an Apology
  12. Mother to Mother
  13. Doug’s Divorce: Part 2 (Doug & the TV)
  14. Mr Nice
  15. Where’s the Milk

This one came out of nowhere, it seemed, and just continued the Uncle Bonsai legend as if there had been no hiatus, as if there were actually an Uncle Bonsai still actively performing. It’s baffling to think that Uncle Bonsai have released more albums of new stuff SINCE their breakup than they did before…. Anyway, this was such a treat just to hear in the first place that I didn’t immediately delight in the material that was presented, which is GREAT! I still laugh at least as hard with these songs as I have done with all the previous UB albums. When I listen to the “Iowa Apology Song” I feel I should notify a physician that this time I might actually rupture that lung laughing so hard. The songs may be written by Andrew Ratshin, but it’s the combination that seals the package so perfectly.

One of the sharpest aspects of Uncle Bonsai songs, whether heard first in live performance or on a recording, is that it can take a verse or two before you’ve got your bearings and know whether what’s coming at you is a savage social commentary, a bittersweet portrait, or a hilarious exercise in absurdity. “Where’s the Milk” is a brilliant example, one that had me cautiously following the song without definite bearings until the immediate approach of the first chorus but left absolutely no question in my mind after that except the “oh my GOD will I stop laughing EVER after this” one of course. “Do You Call That a Hat” has a similar introductory period of uncertainty but yields a far simpler and sillier piece—not that it’s lesser by comparison, or lesser at all, but “Where’s the Milk” taps darker waters.

But “I Owe You an Apology” is the ultimate Uncle Bonsai looking-back song, and it may fly over the heads of non-Bonsai fans (but who cares about them with something this good available?!): the unapologetic nods to Uncle Bonsai songs’ stories and characters fly fast and not furious but graceful, and the delicious electricity of having the three original members singing all of this is absolutely thrilling.