Arm Of Roger : the ham and its lily


"I just hope that whether you have two or three arms, yellow or purple skin, like boys or girls, run with the ocelots or fly with the Turkey Vultures, that this record sounds nice to you."
(Timmy Branca, Arm of Roger)

The Ham and its Lily was the first album to be released on Grandaddy's Sweat of the Alps label. Arm Of Roger (AoR) is the odd name of the band behind this oddly entitled disc. Strange content as well? As a Grandaddy devotee I was curious to find out what was hiding behind one of the ugliest sleeves in the history of popular music.

Story is: in 1998 AoR almost finished what was to be their first album The Velvet Insides, when the house of a friend of the band, who was recording it, burned down. The tapes burnt as well. This friend and Timmy Branca (singer, guitarist) even had to spend time in jail for this fire, though they claimed to have nothing to do with the circumstances prior to it (according to Branca: "...we know it was A Fight With Sticks, some shitty band from Manteca..."). However, insurance money appeared, money for which The Ham and its Lily was finished. Truth or not it's a funny story (check their site).

And music-wise? Well, to be honest the music is as odd as and a perfect match to the name of the band, the title of the record, and the cover art. It's hard to describe what or how they sound like. It's quite schizofrenic, and I get both appalled (almost, at least annoyed) and fascinated at the same time. A friend of the band has described the music of AoR: " a big beautiful zoo with free coke machines and pretty girls walking around, or even riding around on the wild animals." Hmm, maybe not getting things clearer...

I find opening track "Robot Escort" - a "survivor" from their lost album - nothing but annoying. The same goes for "I Like Lo-fi Recordings", "The Pussy Song", and "One Time They Called and Asked for Freddy". I guess that's what they want. To annoy. I sense this wild, inside humor - sometimes charmingly naive, others plain cryptical. The music is sort of anarcho-pop (whatever that is), and the only reference I'd like to mention is the Snakefinger sounding "You Know You're Fucked". Best songs: "Down With The Animals" (the real one, not the instrumental radio remix), the catchy "Seven Days of the Week", and the aforementioned "You Know..."



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