The Music: There is a freaky sense of abandon pinging around Beanpole’s collection of fifteen short tracks; a comically loose, yet supposedly lyrically based concept album on half-food/half human hybrids, illegal family bonds and other whacky outings. The intro track sets the scene with running bass, scratchy guitars and layers of singing before the frantic “Chicken Boy” squawks, but it is “Cousins” which provides the first highlight via accordions, cymbals and a kaleidoscope of sound around incestuous lyrics in the vein of Ween.
The Crash Test Dummies sounding “Farmer Loved an Onion” is another successful tale of misplaced affections while “Pumpkin Pickin’ Time” is a mid-album highlight with dramatic drumming and swelling sounds supported by childlike backing vocals. “Grandma” mixes punkish outer space runs with the boing of a mouth harp while “Children In Your Garden” has screeching guitars and powerful bass.
The album less successfully slips into freaky spoken word outings with minimal accompaniment on the second side with “Judge Wapner” and “Monkey Boy” that are both limp and one note. The frequent musical interludes can be interesting but extraneous while tracks like “Sponge Boy” and “Embryo” are simply annoying missteps.
The Story: Sifting through the marketing hype and deliberately misleading PR spin can be tricky as Sean Lennon released the album on his Chimera Music stating:
Beanpole’s All My Kin is a concept album for post-modern America. It chronicles the epic tale of Chicken Boy and his dangerously interrelated family. Years of isolation have resulted in the birth of a child who is part man and part poultry. Despite obvious adoration for their uniquely feathered offspring, having fallen upon hard times they consider the unthinkable: will Chicken Boy be sacrificed to feed his hungry family
There are zero stakes as there is no linking of concepts around all of the silliness and cartoonish sounds. The record was actually recorded by none other than Les Claypool in the late eighties early/nineties with Primus mate Larry Lelonde and Spent Poets Adam Gates and Derek Greenberg onboard. The group intentionally switched instruments and wrote songs on the fly for an amateur feeling throughout.
The Verdict: Claypool’s music has always been well suited for the absurd and Beanpole’s All of My Kin jumps to the front of the line when it comes to his bizarre releases. While he recently teamed up with Lennon to strike freak rock gold on Monolith of Phobos, All My Kin is much more of an oddity, but one that surprisingly works well early before losing steam over the second half of the record.
If you are a fan of acts like They Might Be Giants, Captain Beefheart, The Meat Puppets or even joke groups like Green Jelly, GWAR or Weird Al you might want to check out Beanpole, also if Lloyd Kaufman and Troma are looking for inspiration regarding a new low budget freak-out flick, All My Kin is the perfect soundtrack.