Neil Cicierega – “The Starting Line”

I’ve been enjoying Neil Cicierega‘s Mouth Moods a little too much. But before I get into it, let’s back up a bit.

2004 was a pretty good year. Ye just came out, video games were fire, Chappelle’s Show was killing it, Spider-Man 2 was dope, and you couldn’t escape Terror Squad‘s “Lean Back.” Plus a bunch of other stuff. 2004 was also the year when  people decided that mashups, the act of taking random songs from two (usually) vastly different artists and…mashing them together into something completely different, was the new cool thing to do. Hell, even MTV got in on it their godawful Collision Course collaborative record, which paired together the absolutely most random combination of Jay-Z and Linkin Park and ended up going platinum. Remember hearing “Numb/Encore” over and over again? What a time to be alive!

Anyhow, with technology coming around and the Internet making it easier to share music, mashups only took off from there. I can’t lie, I dug Girl Talk (where is he now, anyway?) and his bombastic sampledelic smorgasboards on albums like Night Ripper and Feed The Animals, but it’s been a good…decade (bruh) since I’ve willingly listened to a mashup record.

That is…until Mouth Moods.

Alright, back to 2017. Neil Cicierega is a comedian, producer, puppeteer (Remember Potter Puppet Pals blowing up Youtube years ago? That was him), and generally a pretty multi-talented dude who’s also a mashup artist. Now three albums deep into his Mouth series he’s pretty….well, good. He nails what makes mashups so engaging in the first place: He’s got the wild juxtaposition of random artists and found sounds down pat, diving deep into pop culture with a particular focus on the ’90s and early 2000s, with a knowing, tongue-in-cheek approach. What’s more, he’s got a good ear for many of his samples, and knows how to bend them just right to make them work and play nice together (or not). There are many moments on Mouth Moods which are completely unexpected, completely hilarious, and all out fun to experience. I haven’t heard a record this outlandish, strange, and funny in a minute, especially with some moments that can catch you by surprise and have you grinning. It works on one level as a solid novelty record, but there’s several notable moments here which can stand on their own and becomes solid music in itself.

Anyhow, “The Starting Line” is a great opener and one listen I’ve had on constant repeat for the past week and a half. Like nonstop. Kicking off with a sample of Nine Days‘ “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” (geeze, is it 2001 again?), Neil lays on more and more samples, making the mix downright harmonious, and then really kicks the track off, becoming a danceable and funky song which becomes more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s worth a listen.

Oh, and just letting you know right now: Be prepared to hear a lot of Smash Mouth and Barenaked Ladies.

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