Whirlwind Heat
BRILLE 25.12.06

A cursory glance over the cover of Whirlwind Heat’s Christmas Day release, I Fucked Up Types of Wood, raised more than one or two questions. ‘I Fucked Up Air Miami’? ‘I Fucked Up Regan’? A little research later, and all became clear. Types of Wood, it transpires, was the title of Whirlwind Heat’s 2006 album, and the offering now in my possession comprises a song for song reworking of the same, “fucked up” with acoustic guitar, kazoo and anything else that happened to by lying around.

A little more research was then required, in order to determine exactly how far the originals had been “fucked up”. That might be going a little far, but I Fucked Up’s biggest downfall is that it doesn’t really add or detract anything. Rather than a imaginative re-rendering of a half-decent album, we have a sketchy collection of hit-and-miss tunes loosely constructed from a mish-mash of quirky novelty instruments.

It’s not unenjoyable. There’s definitely some fun to be had with this musical tomfoolery, but the lo-fi stripped back production leaves this sounding like it was recorded on a boozy night in someone’s bedroom studio. As an album it’s incoherent and the many of the songs sound so similar they risk blurring into a generic slur, punctuated only by some very questionable employment of the kazoo.

There are some good moments to be found between the hazy strumming and lazy vocals. The country twang of ‘I Fucked Up Air Miami’ is stripped back, turning lazy Americana into something approaching haunting resonance – up until the kazoo starts buzzing, jarringly out of place. ‘I Fucked Up Reagan’ sounds like what Daniel Johnston would sound like if he could sing and / or play. ‘I Fucked Up Tight’ sounds like nothing so much as the Velvet Underground.

There’s definitely some interesting creations here, I may even go so far as to say good. But the album in its entirety failed to light my fire. More than anything I think it teaches us that just because something is rarely used is not say it’s under-used: specifically, that the kazoo is rarely-used for a very good reason.

Hannah Thompson