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Record Reviews: Home Recording for Fun or Profit

Brooklyn-based Craig Chin and a group of his friends cut a brand of quirky, fun and not-so-serious, lo-fi pop music that simply digs its way into the soul. Think if Allen Clapp crossed paths with Nerf Herder’s Parry Gripp, and they grabbed a few beers and decided to write a batch of songs just for themselves over a long weekend. The results are trashy, brash, beautiful and just a bit funny, which is pretty much everything anyone would want in a new pal; that is just what Chin and crew become. Also, it’s worth noting that Nathan’s is missing a huge opportunity by not using the frankfurter anthem, “The Hot Dog Song,” in advertising.


– Dan Berkman The Deli Magazine Summer 2008
(Issue #15, Volume 4)


If ever an album title gave the game away, then it's this one. 'Home Recording For Fun Or Profit' was recorded directly onto amateur kit in various homes around the US. As a result, it sounds a little lo-fi in lots of places, but fortunately, as with New York soulmates Squires Of The Subterrain, it's easy to forgive the rough edges, instead concentrating on the quirky songs, elevated arrangements and pure ambition on display. There are 15 tracks on 'Home Recording' and the very best of them got me thinking of demo versions Todd Rungren's early records and that's no bad thing.


– Rob Forbes Leicester Bangs Jan. 2008 (http://www.leicesterbangs.co.uk/jan08-3.html)

 

Showcase Journal (7/11/07)

Craig Chin, the guy with that adorable hot dog song, walks up to me at the beginning of the evening and gives me a pin that says "I [Heart] (what else?) Hot Dogs." You've gotta love this guy. Well, no, you don't. But I do. Chin opens with "Skeeball," and I can see why he and Mo Pair are paired together on tour (shut up, you were thinking it as well). Chin is also a fan of "getting in and getting out." I mean, when it comes to skeeball, anything over 90 seconds is unnecessary. Chin acknowledges the shortness of his songs a third of the way through the set and then explains that he's going to string several of them together. So we get cats dancing in the sun, playing, and taking naps; bumblebees sitting in teacups; and finally a song about a knife-wielding man, complete with a plea not to stab the narrators friends. The rest of the set is full of great tunes. Chin is a Robyn Hitchcock fan (both of them are Syd Barrett fans). Chin has a similar sense of the bizarre. Not to mention a love for "bop bop bop" choruses. There's a nice little crowd laughing along throughout this set. As I walk around with the tip jar I find myself piping in on "The Universe Song" and then pause to realize that the only other time I've heard it was three months ago. It's that catchy. Chin could make a million recording records for children. And if more hipsters were in touch with their inner child, he'd be a star. A universe filled with them. Tonight, he is.

Ben Krieger July 14, 2007 (from: http://www.jezebelmusic.com/weblog/pivot/entry.php?id=316)

 

Hot Dog

A song titled "Weiner" was my introduction to Craig Chin. Generally I don't get too excited about songs concerning food (because usually people who write songs like this forget to include good music) but "Weiner," I quickly realized, is simply a good song - not only does a strong melody and tight performance authenticate this (dirty) homage to the frankfurter, but it sets an example of what to expect from this performer. From a song about a clumsy cowboy to an ode to skeeball to a really good ELO cover, Craig Chin's is seriously good music that doesn't take itself too seriously.

I'd go out on a limb and guess that the majority of Chin's musical influences are no later than 1985 and no earlier than 1955. Like Chin's, many successful songs in this era have a bouncy sound and focus on lighthearted subject matter. Also like Chin's, many of these songs draw on country music influences (the beginnings of alt country), classic 50s music, and (constantly evolving) Rock and Roll. Some of Chin's songs are reminiscent of John Denver brand country, some nod to 60s/70s California pop, and some rock it like T Rex (and some play in the same vein as Guided By Voices, Galaxy 500, and Neutral Milk Hotel). The production value on Craig's songs is high, but not because of pristine, expensive sounding recordings. Most of the music was recorded by the artist himself in his Brooklyn apartment, his particular sound likely relying on his knowing what he wants and what he's doing.. using the right slap back reverbs, tremolos, fuzzy guitar tones, choruses of backing vocals, etc. That and the songs are damn well written and arranged.

But as always, the essential cherry on top must be the lyrics. I don't know about you, but I'm a little tired of listening to a song and thinking "What the hell is this song about?" and even singers with clever phrases often fail to convey a coherent message. I'd rather hear a whole story, even if it's about loving hot dogs, than seventy lines of ornate poetry.

Dan DIppolito April 17, 2007 (from: http://www.jezebelmusic.com/weblog/pivot/entry.php?id=249)

 

Showcase Journal: Craig Chin

Acoustically, Craig Chin comes across as a little child-like, a little whimsical. But this isn't tongue-n-cheek music. Kids can smell an adult's insincerity a mile away and I bet he's a hit at all the family picnics. These songs are about hot dogs, skeeball and sad cowboys, performed in a style that ever-so-subtly reveals a vast record collection. Robyn Hitchcock and the Who jumped out at me (boo!); the Syd Barrett cover was a confirmation. This is some of the most glorious beta-male music I've heard in a while: unpretentious, intelligent, and utterly listenable.

Ben Krieger April 24, 2007 (from: http://www.jezebelmusic.com/weblog/pivot/entry.php?id=253)