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Anton Barbeau - Empire of Potential

  by Andy Cassidy

published: 12 / 11 / 2011

Anton Barbeau - Empire of Potential
Label: Idiot Records
Format: CD


Fantastic retrospective album from innovative, yet obscure Californian-based singer-songwriter, Anton Barbeau

I have a confession to make: prior to receiving this album, I had never heard of Anton Barbeau. Apparently, he’s released thirteen albums in eighteen years prior to this collection, and, apparently, he’s something of a cult figure. This collection, subtitled “18 Golden and completely obscure hits,” came about after a gig in Istanbul where the audience had difficulty in choosing which songs they wanted him to perform. The collection opens with the wonderfully titled 'Losing You Makes Crucifixion Easy', a bright and breezy song in the vein of 'Out of Tim'e era REM. Musically Barbeau’s backing band are wonderfully tight, and his vocals are easy and assured. 'Keep My Face Clean' and 'Fuzzchild' are a couple of great “grown up” pop songs, charmingly whimsical and eccentric. Musically, I’m reminded of Aztec Camera or the Waterboys, and lyrics about “an octopus’s jungle” and “spiky hedgehogs” place the lyrics firmly in Syd Barrett or Andy Partridge territory. There is a great deal of joy in this collection, and I cannot believe that I have never heard of this guy! 'Automatic Door' is a cracking, chirpy little rocker while Octagon (which is a collaboration between Barbeau and the Bevis Frond) is pure American indie. The more I listen to this collection, the more I find similarities between Barbeau and bands I love; Pugwash, REM, the Wonder Stuff, Picture House – the list is endless. This is, without question, one of the best albums I have heard this year. My only regret is that I haven’t discovered Anton Barbeau before now. Sadly, this discovery is going to prove expensive for me, as I suspect it will lead to the purchase of his back catalogue! 'Empire of Potential' is a fantastic collection of great songs by a true innovator. If, like me, you have never heard of Anton Barbeau, it is a perfect place to start. This is an excellent album – simple as that.

Track Listing:-
1 Losing You Makes Crucifixion Easy
2 Third Eye
3 Keep My Face Clean
4 Fuzzchild
5 Waterbugs & Beetles
6 The Automatic Door
7 Leave It With Me, I'm Always Gentle
8 This Is Why They Call Me Guru 7
9 Octagon
10 Please Sir I've Got a Wooden Leg
11 MTV Song
12 Heather Song
13 Pilot Plane Passenger
14 Another Stoned Piano
15 If I Could Bring You Trouble
16 Banana Song
17 Boat Called Home
18 Mahjong Dijon

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