From The Published Archives: Autobodies’ Rearranger

It was the summer of 2009.  My Employment Hamilton job counsellor had just gotten off the phone with a contact and was eager to tell me the details.  During a meeting with him in his office, he got in direct touch with a woman from CCMA (Community Centre for Media Arts), a local non-profit.  Knowing I’m a writer, he asked her about this website CCMA created, MonkeyBiz.ca.  She told him what they were looking for and after hanging up, he relayed that information to me.  (They wanted people to review CDs, mostly.)

At the time, the name didn’t sound too familiar.  But when I went online later that same day to check it out, I remembered.

Eight years earlier, when I got my first PC, I found the site through a Google search while looking for writing jobs.  Two things turned me off of it right away.  One, they didn’t pay and two, they wanted short articles (nothing longer than 600 words).

But in 2009, with little hope of getting a paying gig of any persuasion, I reconsidered.  I got in touch with my counsellor’s contact and made arrangements to come to the MonkeyBiz offices downtown.  While there, I picked up a couple of CDs from a small pile she had (there were only independent Canadian acts to choose from), took them home, start listening to them and ultimately drafted reviews for each.

Not long afterwards, both assessments were ready for submission, so not knowing any better I emailed them to my counsellor’s contact.  She was very enthusiastic about my writing but, as it turns out, not very enthusiastic about getting them published.  Every so often, after not hearing back from her, I would fire off an email to find out what the hold-up was.  I never did get an honest answer, when I got any kind of response at all.

By 2010, with the frustration rising, my job counsellor told me to email the editor.  She replied with some startling news:  my contact had quit.  During my next meeting with my counsellor, he confirmed what he had secretly known for some time.  When exactly was he going to tell me?  I was greatly annoyed by this but never let on.

Thankfully, the editor already knew who I was.  Besides trying in vain to get my entertainment stuff on MonkeyBiz, I started a brief three-month run as a volunteer writer for Green Venture, a local, non-profit environmental organization in September 2009.  The first article I wrote for them was basically a thinly veiled press release for some Car Care event they were doing at the time.  It was posted on MonkeyBiz but curiously yanked after only a week online.  (I say curiously because other outdated articles were still available to be perused, at least until late 2012.)

Anyway, when I enquired about these two reviews (including a couple more that were submitted to the woman I met that also disappeared down the Internet rabbit hole), the editor said she never got them.  My counsellor’s contact never passed them on to her.  Thankfully, she expressed interest in seeing them and requested I resubmit all four directly to her which I did promptly.

Happy to receive them, she told me they would be “published on our next publishing cycle”.  Well, not quite.  As it turns out, she would post them bit by bit over a multi-week period which, to her credit, she later said was the actual plan.  I had no problem with that, though.  After waiting more than half a year to see my work surface publicly, I was relieved any of it was coming out at all.

My very first MonkeyBiz posting was this March 28, 2010 review of Rearranger by the independent duo, Autobodies.  Sadly, the review as seen was not exactly what I submitted.  My reference to the two singers’ harmonies paling in comparison to The Beach Boys was excised as was an entire section about the song, Yer Bird.  Also cut was a reference to Fox News broadcaster Bill O’Reilly’s infamous “We’ll do it live!” freakout from 1996.  For this Published Archives reposting, all of these unnecessary removals have been restored.

Since all of my MonkeyBiz reviews are no longer on there (the site went through a makeover sometime in the second half of 2012 which involved dropping a whole slew of reviews, interviews and articles from various other writers) and they obviously have no further interest in working with me (it’s been almost two years since the last email), beginning a year ago I’ve been gradually republishing them here making changes where appropriate.  Only two more remain after this Autobodies review.  Look for my review of Dirty Penny’s Sage Against The Machine shortly.

Autobodies – Rearranger

Posted on March 28 2010 under Arts & Entertainment
By Dennis Earl

At various points during Rearranger, the fifth album from Autobodies, you wonder what exactly frontman Kent Eliuk is trying to say.

No matter how many times you listen to the 13 tracks that feature his vocals (there’s also an instrumental), a fair number of his lyrics are hard to decipher.  (A lyric sheet may have cleared things up).

It doesn’t help matters that he evokes a less confident Thurston Moore when he sings.  Not a gifted warbler by any stretch, Eliuk (who recorded and mixed the album in the basement of his Toronto home) struggles on each song.

It’s too bad because for the most part the music he’s made with German-born drummer Jan Ladisich is quite good.  If only this were purely an instrumental CD.

Submarined is easily the best song here which, unfortunately, isn’t saying very much.  It features a lovely, slowed down acoustic riff that you’d expect to hear from Supergrass.  Thankfully, despite a distractingly unnecessary xylophone part in the last minute and a repetitive one-note bassline in the first, the guitar playing is strong enough to warrant multiple listens.  I wish I could say the same for the rest of Rearranger.

Eliuk alternates between singing off-key to simply talking his way through the material.  His wife, Joy, backs him up on a few tracks and they clearly lack harmonic cohesion.  The Beach Boys, they’re not.

The closest he comes to delivering a passable vocal happens during Yer Bird about a betrayed man not buying his woman’s change of heart.  He’d rather have a pet bird instead of being burned again.

The arrangement, clearly evoking the acoustic guitar work in Love Will Tear Us Apart, is the prettiest on the album despite the unevenness of the singing.  A stronger vocalist would’ve made the track an album standout.

Wind Chill, the CD’s finale, has an earthy, souful feel thanks mainly to a simple yet effective organ part and disciplined drumming.  Catwatch has a scrappy, unpolished vibe and features an end-of-song electric guitar solo that Billy Corgan could have laid down.  Some of the acoustic work on Airspace is Jam-like.  Unfortunately, each of these songs are ruined by Eliuk’s unsophisticated vocals.

Clearly realizing his limitations, he’s made sure to bury himself so far down in the mix at times that he’s hard to follow and consistently understand.  Sadly, even if we could hear his every word, his lacklustre performance remains a problem.

When you do understand what he’s saying, the results are sometimes silly.  On the two-minute Old Smile, he sings the hokey line, “love is something to believe in when it’s something real” with such earnestness you wonder if he’s deluded himself into believing he’s a deep thinker.

On the title song, he offers lines like “your voice is like a jar of paint” and “your lips are like a parade in a small town”.  As Bill O’Reilly once put it, “I don’t know what that means!”

Autobodies, for the most part, are fine instrumentalists but they need a new singer, more compelling lyrics and a professional mixer.  Rearranger provides the evidence.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, January 3, 2014
9:51 p.m.

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Published in: on January 3, 2014 at 9:51 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. […] weeks after my edited review of Autobodies’ Rearranger first surfaced on MonkeyBiz.ca, this assessment of Dirty Penny’s Sage Against The Machine made its debut.  (The Sage in […]

  2. […] us with the world of entertainment.  When I wasn’t reposting old MonkeyBiz CD reviews of Autobodies’ Rearranger and Dirty Penny’s Sage Against The Machine, I was honouring 6 actors who made remarkable […]


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