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MP3 Kaspar Hauser - Quixotic/Taxidermy

Guitar-driven, hooky pop/rock that''s warm and familiar but still oddly-shaped.

10 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Rock & Roll, POP: Pop/Rock

Long-time midwesterner Thomas Comerford started Kaspar Hauser while living in Iowa City in 1999. Though he’d played guitar, written songs and played in bands since the age of ten, with influences ranging from the Beatles to the Meat Puppets to Will Oldham, his only releases were hand-held tape recordings handed out to friends. Upon moving to Chicago in 1999, he began to assemble various lineups to do sporadic shows and recordings. Kaspar Hauser was still a part-time activity, however, as Comerford (who teaches film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) was producing 16mm films and touring the country with them.

It was in making the Quixotic/Taxidermy record from 2004-2006 that Comerford felt he was finally achieving a level of musical artistry that fully fleshed out his songs. For recording, he drew on a number of friends and previous contributors, including Stephen “the kid” Howard (Pinebender, Ambulette), Johnathan Crawford (ex-Head of Femur, William Elliot Whitmore) and Kent Lambert (Roommate), among others. Kris Poulin, a Chicago engineer (Pinback, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billie, Love Story in Blood Red) who has recorded and played with Comerford over the years, recorded and mixed the bulk of the record.

Chicago label Backwardmasking Records, home also to Love Story in Blood Red, has issued the record in February 2007. Kaspar Hauser, with a new live lineup, will be playing shows around the United States in 2007.


• "Here are a few pop-culture items I''ve been digging this week ... Kaspar Hauser''s Quixotic/Taxidermy, which was spotlighted in this week''s podcast." -Whitney Matheson, 4/6, Pop Candy/https://www.tradebit.com

• "Comerford ... sings in a nasal tenor that reminds me of Bill Callahan (the artist formerly known as Smog), ripping through shambling, melodic rock tunes with a bored swagger. There’s a definite shot of the Rolling Stones here, particularly in the looseness of the arrangements, but Kaspar Hauser doesn’t seem particularly concerned with using classic rock ‘n’ roll riffery; the guitars sputter and clamber more than they groove. A few ballads embrace a darker, more atmospheric vibe—including a surprisingly good cover of Big Star’s ''Holocaust,'' a tough tune to mess with—but ultimately Comerford’s writing and the way he comfortably wears the skin of these warmly familiar songs is what puts the band over. Even when the songs seem like they’re about to fall apart, his singing threads them back together." -Peter Margasak, 3/8, Post No Bills/Chicago Reader

• " ... Quixotic/Taxidermy is a strong elemental journey through basic but effective pop songs. Comerford''s voice is at the forefront pretty much the whole way through--his slacker-rock spew matched with pieces of Southern twang make a nice vocal concoction. When he includes electronic parts, such as the strange back-up keyboard effects in ''King Pop,'' it never distracts, only adds to the live instruments. Everything is very, very loose--so much so that it seems the songs will devolve into nothing at any moment--but that''s what makes the album exciting, full of worry, and though everything works out OK, unpredictable. ''Glass Case Full of Dead Stuffed Birds'' features a chorus that could easily be found in a Califone song--but with Comerford''s voice, it''s more of a celebration." -Tom Lynch, 5/24, New City (print)

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