October 28, 2008

Clicky Clicky 200: Jon Brion's "I Believe She's Lying"

Jon Brion by Robert Gauthier, LA Times
[Photo Credit: Robert Gauthier/LA Times] Readers are likely familiar with L.A.-based Jon Brion because of his brilliant soundtrack work over the past decade, or his production work with big names like Fiona Apple and Spoon (Brion recorded "The Underdog" from the Texas quartet's brilliant Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga). The most interesting thing, to us anyway, about Jon Brion is that we had a couple opportunities to get on board with the formerly Boston-based songwriter and producer long before we picked up his solo set Meaningless at the short-lived Harvard Square location of Other Music about seven years ago. Whilst an undergrad in the early '90s, our compadre Mr. Obb emphatically recommended to our attention the work of Jellyfish, a combo that featured Mr. Brion along with whoa, wait a second, Jon Brion wasn't actually in Jellyfish, his future bandmate Jason Falkner was (Brion did, however, apparently play guitar on Jellyfish's Spilt Milk). OK, fast-forward to 1998 or so, and our co-worker Max recommended we check out The Grays, which featured Mssrs. Brion and Falkner. Even so, nothing from Jellyfish or The Grays fired our imagination.

However, we certainly found what we were looking for when we bought Meaningless. The set is packed with immaculately produced indie rock, and features clever and melodic pop numbers and ballads. The crown jewel is the up-tempo scramber "I Believe She Is Lying." According to Brion's liner notes, the lyrics were co-written with fellow Boston scenemaker Aimee Mann. Those circular words provide a sharp focal point for the tune, which rides a dizzying jungle breakbeat -- think Scooby Doo's legs spinning before he gets moving -- and brilliantly layers in vocoder backing vocals and harmonies over syncopated and arpeggiated guitars. The only other comment Brion offers in the liner notes is the short description "fear of commitment anthem." Which is sort of like calling Mount Rushmore an interesting hill. "I Believe She's Lying" is #90 on the Clicky Clicky 200, the countdown of our 200 most-listened-to favorites; read prior CC200 posts right here.

Jon Brion -- "I Believe She's Lying" -- Meaningless
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[buy Meaningless from CD Baby right here]

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