When it comes to putting out a compilation of music, many of those compilations come to be as a way of keeping a band or musician relevant and in the eye of the music-buying public. But sometimes, the thought of putting together an album of previously-released material comes from just having a good idea. This is where singer-songwriter Ric Seaberg comes in.
Over the years, Portland, Oregon-based Ric Seaberg has written several albums of music. Within those albums, Seaberg has covered many topics, one of which happens to be cars. One song here, one there, the songs kept accumulating within the normal writing process until one day when Seaberg decided it would be a good idea to compile each of those car-themed songs onto one release with each track devoted to transportation. The resulting release is Ric Seaberg’s 2015 album entitled Vehicular Tuneage.
The newest release from Ric Seaberg begins with his most notable track, “We Talk about Cars”. The track features a musical style that would go well with the car songs from the 1960s from the likes of The Beach Boys and/or Jan & Dean. The track contains a little humor in the lyrics as Seaberg compares men and women: When women get together, they talk about things like the kids, their jobs, fashion, and gossip. Men, on the other hand, get together and talk about…cars. Just one listen to the track will let you know why the track became Seaberg’s most played track after being played National Public Radio’s “Car Talk”.
Tracks like “Little Volvo” and “In My Daddy’s Car” find Seaberg writing from personal experience. These and other tracks on the release find Seaberg bringing the human touch to the writing process of his songs. The aforementioned tracks bring the listener closer to Seaberg as you start to relate to what is being sung about in these songs. There is even a song about taking the dog for a ride in the car called “The Bichon Song”.
While most of the tracks on Vehicular Tuneage find Ric Seaberg in a humorous mood, the track “Jesus Didn’t Have a Car” is different as it finds Seaberg in a more reflective mood. Having probably based the track on the “WWJD (What Would Jesus Drive)” bumper stickers, “Jesus Didn’t Have a Car” examines how Jesus’ life would have been different IF he simply had a car. Seaberg handles the topic with a bit of humor so that the track does not end up being too serious.
Speaking of humor, with the track “That’s One Heck of an RV Park,” Seaberg seems to create a statement that is very reminiscent of a Jeff Foxworthy comedy routine. While the track is not all that funny, you can slightly hear Foxworthy’s humor in the track.
With the track “Didn’t Say ‘I Love You’ Right,” Ric Seaberg brings the humor back to the album in a big way. Based on a letter which was read over the NPR airwaves, “Didn’t Say ‘I Love You’ Right” examines the different ways men and women express their love towards each other…with some very humorous results.
Although most of the tracks on Vehicular Tuneage contain something to do with cars, Ric Seaberg has written songs around other forms of transportation, as well. Tracks like “I Don’t drive,” “Don’t Drive Your Car in the Bike Lane” and “I Need a Car” make sure those of us who live day-to-day without the use of a car don’t get left out when listening to the release. In fact, the tracks about bicycles and those who ride them are the reasons why the album is called Vehicular Tuneage.
The new release from Ric Seaberg comes to a close with a very familiar tune. In 2015, Seaberg recorded a new, slightly updated version of “We Talk about Cars”. The newly-recorded version of the song helps to encapsulate the album nicely as it and the original version of the tune bookend the release.
When “travelling” through the songs that make up Vehicular Tuneage from Ric Seaberg, the listener is presented with a compilation album that feels as fun, varied and unique as anything put together by Barry “Dr. Demento” Hansen for Rhine Records. In fact, several of the tracks from the Vehicular Tuneage release could have easily appeared on The Dr. Demento Show because of the humor included in the tracks. From the NPR-inspired “Didn’t Say ‘I Love You’ Right” to the very suggestive track “Woodie,” and most notably “We Talk about Cars,” each of those tracks could easily fit on that program. The Vehicular Tuneage release from Ric Seaberg is a lot of fun for car enthusiasts, as well as those who like their music with just a bit of humor and light-heartedness to it.
Artist: Ric Seaberg
Album: Vehicular Tuneage
Reviewer: Matheson Kamin
Rating: ***** (five stars)
Artist: Ric Seaberg
Album Title: Consciousness
Reviewed by: Kelly O’Neil
Unlike Weird Al Yankovich who parodies existing songs, Ric Seaberg tackles life’s ironies with original bemusing ditties. A rock veteran from the heyday of creative music composition, Seaberg’s songs are not only chock full of clever, real world lyrics but are extremely listener friendly.
Despite the warmth of the voice and instruments these two entities sound like they were recorded in different rooms. The blend is good but there is a hint of separation where the two sound layered as opposed to intertwined. Regardless, the musicianship on the entire album is tight with happy times rockabilly flavor. Consciousness opens with a mellow blend of electric guitar and rock organ in “The Blessing and Curse of Consciousness” setting the stage for a host of interesting and occasionally bizarre real world observations such as the simplistic thoughts of canines and penguins compared to the complex and worrisome frets of humans.
Seaberg takes a stab at humorously extoling the virtues of aging in “The Pee Bottle Song” including the joyous realities of incontinence, anti-inflammatory medication and support braces. The guitar work in the extended coda keeps the mood light. With the addition of vocal effects, “I Need Friends” comes off as a Tom Petty type number with its straight ahead beat about the materialistic influence of winning companions with cannabis, overpriced food and flashy automobiles – all completely tongue-in-cheek of course.
Delving into less serious scenarios, the Oregon rocker explains how his paycheck is laboriously earned in “The Coffee Song” in order to quench his thirst for the exotic offerings of Starbucks which he lists in the chorus. Seaberg’s patient wife Marie makes a cameo appearance on “Fourth Meal” sighing as her husband gets geared up to make a late night Taco Bell run in this Jimmy Buffet island influenced tune. Saxophonist Dan Schauffler adds a raunchy Jersey shore sound to “Man Cave Sunday” where the guys watch football on the big screen TV and gorge on beer and nachos. Seaberg employs harmonious vocal layering in the coda of “That’s One Hell of an RV Park” complimenting everything from the swimming pool to the hip lot neighbors.
The songs continue to get more inane as the album progresses. The driving beat of “Bitchin’ Camaro” is all about trying to find a plausible rhyme scheme for the car such as sparrow, pharaoh and tarot. In the bluegrass tinged “Mayhem at the Guggenheim” an exhibit is accidentally trampled on at the modern art museum complete with an enthusiastic “Yee-haw!” Arguably the most amusing track has to be “The Remote Control Fart Machine” with the chorus, “It’s a gas / I got class / There’s emissions coming out your ass.” Enough said.
Amidst the silliness Seaberg does have a serious side. In the acoustic ballad “Obsess Over You” he decides to cease fixating his thoughts on germs, reality TV, frozen water pipes and carbohydrates and instead focus on his lover. It is a sweet sediment albeit delivered in a rather strange way. “One Day in My Life” is a perspective song that no matter how cruddy a day can be rife with a car accident, lost wallet, broken washing machine and the passing of your dog, it is only one day and all you can do is move on. The saxophone work on this closing number adds a melodic countermelody to the song.
From the arenas of the Pacific Northwest back in the 1970’s to the present day airwaves of NPR, Seaberg’s music has already been enjoyed across the country. With his latest full length offering Consciousness he once again delights listeners with his lackadaisical world views, smart eccentric lyrics and solid rock and roll. As long as the NSAIDs keep the guitarist’s arthritis at bay, hopefully Seaberg will continue to churn out lots more entertaining antidotes.
Review by Kelly O’Neil
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)