East River Pipe - The Gasoline Age LP
Label : Merge Records
Condition : Used (NM/NM)
Saluted by Rolling Stone as “the most gifted of the new loners,” F.M. Cornog, aka East River Pipe, originally released The Gasoline Age in 1999. Named Album of the Year by both The New York Times and England’s The Independent, The Gasoline Age was inspired in large part by nighttime drives on New Jersey’s seedy Route 22. Automobile imagery appears throughout the album: cybercars, stolen cars, pimpmobiles. The cars all seem to carry with them a romanticism that emphasizes even further Cornog’s gift of creating a lyrical mood without tying his flights of fancy down to specifics.
The Gasoline Age explores the suburban landscape and turnpike stretches outside Cornog’s door and calmly runs down bleak facts over the gentle pulse and chorused strums Cornog has been perfecting since his early singles. Some of the songs are built on merely six concise lines of clear-eyed warning, though sometimes (“Hell Is an Open Door”) he sounds like he might actually be looking forward to the darkness on the horizon. On other tracks, like the ironically titled “Party Drive,” it sounds as though Cornog is barely going to make it to the curb. But for the character in the song, going on that drive is the only thing that makes it seem like “we’re gonna be OK.”
The disconnect between the unsettling dead ends Cornog sings about and the peaceful swells of the keyboards and the glimmering guitars is what brings emotional weight to the entire album. One doesn’t get the sense that a whole lot has changed in the last 15 years for the characters inhabiting this world.
Merge came to know East River Pipe through his string of memorable and mysterious singles on Hell Gate and Sarah Records. Merge co-founder Mac McCaughan writes, “We had friends who were early fans of those records, including Jim Wilbur of Superchunk, and it seemed that no one took East River Pipe fandom lightly—once you were in on the secret, you were all in. After Ajax Records compiled the sparkling early sides, we started working with Fred and his wife and partner Barbara Powers and have been looking forward to the next batch of periodic broadcasts from his bedroom studio ever since.”