Junkpiled: The Bear Eats Me by Amanda Jo Williams
Amanda Jo Williams is making a joke of the Los Angeles roots music scene. Sounding like a tortured child and writing rudimentary, hillbilly cliché songs on a toy guitar she can barely play, this aspiring model turned musician (surprise!) is quickly bringing the word ‘quirky’ to new meaning: ‘no talent hipster garbage.’
“That [performing at Spaceland] really helped me get my foot in the door of the ‘hipster’ music scene of Echo Park in L.A.” Williams said in an interview. “My music was very well received, which was surprising after my lack of success in New York. I fell in love with L.A,” she continued.
Amanda Jo does have quite the following here. And her new album entitled The Bear Eats Me, is getting rave reviews. One listener even put her in a league with Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash (what!?!?!). Of course, this is either a reflection of the fact that she got a bunch of people to drink the “look I’m trendy” Koolaid, or that her critical success solidifies our instinct that some folks these days can’t tell the difference between genuine music and pretentious crap.
Some say she’s avant-garde. Avant-garde is fine if you’re Captain Beefheart or Van Dyke Parks, but Williams isn’t even fit to work in a record store that sells either of their albums, much less be compared to Country music royalty. And in touting her sound as such, she’s asking for harsh criticism with her forced spectacle like attempts to be different. As Lester Bangs once said in 1971, “Anyone performing avant-garde music is laying themselves open to a certain amount of hostility and derision at the outset.” Williams is no exception. Her music is ego-driven indulgence that begs to be understood by only an elite group of insiders that rally around her. She isn’t playing to everyone. She isn’t secure enough or good enough to do that (probably because the well schooled, BS detecting NY ‘intellectuals’ she tried to sell her ‘art’ to couldn’t be fooled by her pathetic Maureen Tucker “After Hours” imitation and laughed her out of the city, leading to her departure to LA in favor of “big fish, small pond” clique notoriety).
Beyond that, avant-garde in reference to her sound is misleading. The term would lend to the suggestion that she is doing something new or revolutionary, but she’s far from breaking new ground. Her vocals are a ripoff of Victoria Williams without the lyrical or musical gifts to match (just listen to her songs or read her nonsense nursery rhyme lyrics). Her cutesy characterization and wannabe eccentricities are simply irritating rather than endearing. At best, she’s a a poor man’s version of The Shaggs or a Yoko Ono performance piece.
” i was born cool. i’m musically ignorant and proud. ” – Amanda Jo Williams
That said, not only do we hope that the “bear eats her,” but in the process, we also ask him to eat every last copy of her album so Los Angeles is no longer plagued by the style-over-substance trash that she passes off as “psychedelic folk.” And the bear might also consider going to Silverlake and tearing her kindergarten inspired, hand-drawn posters to shreds, so they can be replaced by something with even a slight hint of balls.
the bear eats me ooh dippi dippy doo de dippy dippy do
the phone gets me ooh …..
one long look, and one blue eye, all i’m saying is have a little faith in me
wear it well ooh dippy dippy doo ….
your fire is touchy ooh dippy
one tall kid, and one fish fry, how it can change a man put him in the boom boom
all she wanted the turkey on her brain was 50 apple ponies and a guitar made in spain, she wanted she wanted hi ay ya y ay y
all she needed was kitties and a rat, a curly tailed pig and some wood that made a bat
she needed she needed hi yayayyayayay
the bear eats me ooh dippy
the phone gets me ohh dippy