F.M. Cornog, the man band behind East River Pipe, fashions somnambulant tunes that wander lethargically through simple, understated arrangements of soft strumming, dreamy organ or keyboards, and a steady drum machine beat. Soaked in melancholia, Cornog's music has a late-night, last-call vibe, from the sweet country-twang of "Long Black Cloud" to the gentle swell and drift of elegiac, suicide paean "Stare the Graveyard Down."
Populated with small-time crooks, murderers and hapless losers running over endless freeway miles, Cornog's lyrical obsession with the beaten and broken is relentless across the album. At one point he wonders, "Wouldn't it be something/ To take all the pain/And throw it off for a day?" Other than the almost upbeat, Guided By Voices-like, "Monumental Freaks," the album limps so empathetically that by the time it reaches its conclusion with "It's Always Been This Way," it's hard not to sympathize with Kurtz's suggestion that we "exterminate the brutes." Pretty despondent is accurate on both counts.