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Published: 2003/06/26
by Jesse Jarnow

Welcome To The Occupation – Brad Postlethwaite

Makeshift Music 010

There are two boundaries one must get by to dig Brad Postlethwaite's
Welcome To The Occupation mini-album. The first is his voice, which I
quite like, though it's an admittedly strange set o' pipes. It's one of
those rubbery freakizoid inflections, like Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips
or Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, though maybe a little more forced than
either of those (another reason it might be hard to get by it). On last
year's Our Land Brains, his excellent debut record with Snowglobe, he
delivered music-as-blanket tunes, whose sheer warmth allowed the listener to
accept the voice as capable of communicating beauty. Which leads to the
subject of the album, and the second hurdle to get by in appreciating the

It's a concept record about September 11th and its aftermath. Well, maybe
not a concept so much as a theme, but – y'know – what's the difference when
you're talking about 9/11? Either way, you have to – at least temporarily – get over what he's singing about. In writing about the 11th, Postlethwaite
makes an odd leap. Many of the bands that practice the modern psychedelia he
is influenced by (such as, again, the Flaming Lips and Neutral Milk Hotel)
deal primarily in fantasy worlds: Coyne sings of robots in the future,
Mangum of Holocaust ghosts. These are abstractions, and wonderful ones.
Postlethwaite makes the leap into the present.

"Hopes were crumbling / Into prayers / That came out screaming / Ringing
everywhere," he sings on the opening "We Never Woke Up." "There were bodies
falling through / The air. / There were newsman fixing up / Their hair /
There were famous people singing / Songs / That filled up stadiums and
emp-tied the shopping malls." Postlethwaite uses tones of psychedelic
surrealism to pile images onto the present, ripping the ties off of
Presidents and political figures to reveal the same warmongering lords who
have been calling for war for the entire history of man. New is old, for
Postlethwaite, and just as grizzly as it ever was.

For all of this, the thing that makes Welcome To The Occupation a
winning record is its production — the same organic bells and whistles that
characterized Our Land Brains. Organs, chimes, acoustic guitars, and
countermelodies all hover out in the margins of the mix. A modestly great

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