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Fog - Hummer

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Artist: Fog

Album: Hummer

Label: Ninja Tune

Review date: Apr. 27, 2004

Fog (Andrew Broder) is a singer-songwriter, abstract tablist and multi-instrumentalist from Minneapolis. He has recorded two full-lengths for the venerable British label Ninja Tune. Last year he released the Modern Hits EP, in which he laid beats underneath a cappella versions of verses from some of his favorite emcees (including MF Doom, Nas and Jay-Z), somewhat predating Dangermouse. His music can be loosely compared to cLOUDDEAD (he dropped an under-hyped record with cLOUDDEAD's Why? last year called Hymie's Basement), but Fog's is often a more precise hybrid of indie rock and undie hiphop (check out Fog's "Pneumonia," for example). Broder returns g here with Hummer, a new 7-track EP and purportedly his last for Ninja Tune.

"Whom That Wall Hits" opens with an obtuse verse: "Hitting the wall we eat varmints, we wave a fiery bat on luxury lawns," before asking the climactic question, "Don't you know there's a war ON?" It's easy to picture Broder scribbling poetry on a motel bill as he sips warm milk, suddenly recalling he likes video games better than "Lou Reed weekends," advising associates to invest in stethoscopes, and realizing his favorite part of Pavement songs are when they completely fall apart.

Elsewhere, multi-tracked harmonies weave clauses like "a spoof on God" around "a crippled wolf" on the title track, sounding like something from Ether Teeth. "I, Baby" could be solo John Lennon - on ether - before his wife Julie starts banging a skillet with a wooden spoon.

The real gem though is "Cockeyed Cookie Pusher," with Broder pulling off Shrimper-era Simon Joyner better than Joyner himself. Broder sings: "Once I had a dream/ Of an apple orchard scene/ And when this life is through/ I'll throw apples at you," invoking a character in an unwritten chapter of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio.

"The Stink of Kings" revisits the vague politics of the first song, issuing Silver Jewish lines like "Flags can't get stars right/ Cause they take them down at night" and "A wink is half a blink." These meditations, like the double entendre of the title track and the uncompromising instrumentation, are loaded like right answers to questions in your head. On Hummer, Fog continues to use words just like any other instrument.

By Jake O'Connell

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