As his latest quirky, freewheeling opus Off Front Street envelops our intrigued, piqued to the max ears, it’s clear that Parker Longbough may not have the most rangy vocals, but he’s a master at weaving offbeat narratives that artfully snag our attention and keep us on the edge of our proverbial seats.
The prolific singer/songwriter uses his 90’s rock influenced swirl of fuzzy and jangling guitars and synth wizardry to ruminate over a suspected dog doping incident (“Off Front Street”); name checks the title of the late R&B singer Aaliyah’s debut album; reflect back on a 25 year old story about a gorilla saving a three year old boy at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo (“We Missed the Exit”); and ponder the AVE Mizar, a roadable aircraft created in the early 70s by mating the rear portion of a Cessna Skymaster to a Ford Pinto.
Who thinks thoughts like this – and dares to sing so playfully about them? Name another guy in his realm who inspires such Googling and Wikipedia searching while blistering, grooving and vocally seducing. See, you probably can’t. And when Longbough’s not plucking cool fire from recent and ancient news stories and hit albums, he’s dancing around some thoughts on our feeling of helplessness re: global warming (“Photosynthetic”) and sharing some apparent personal insecurities via “Wanna Be Johnny” (perhaps the most lively, infectious and instantly likeable tune in the set) and the self-incriminating lament “’Cause You’re Worth It.”
Beyond this incredible flow of offbeat musical literature, there’s another aspect to Off Front Street worth a mention. He recorded it before the pandemic began, but he honored the weirdness (and recording limitations) of the lockdown era by putting it on the back burner so he could share the immediacy of two quarantine-created gems, the critically acclaimed, electronica tinged Crackle/Hiss and the EP 246 Tapes Volume 1, recorded entirely on a Tascam 246 tape machine. With a few months to go, 2021 has already been a trifecta for Longbough – and who knows what fascinating, sonically engaging oddities lurk next?