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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Review: The Energy Commission - 10,000 Hours Of The Energy Commission

The Energy Commission - 10,000 Hours Of The Energy Commission
2009, Persistence Records

Jay Weinberg is something of a folk hero. In May of 2008 he staged a protest on the roof of a gas station where he sang his song Price Gouge'n. The song had been written in 2005 about oil companies running up the prices of fuel without cause and had gained little notice. That one act of civil disobedience turned Weinberg into an overnight sensation, appearing on Good Morning America and all major network newscasts. Weinberg saw an opportunity to use his music for a cause, and with his songwriter wife and a few friends formed The Energy Commission. The Energy Commission's latest release, 10,000 Hours Of The Energy Commission, captures 11 of Weinberg's politically charged and musically entertaining compositions.

10,000 Hours opens with the song that started it all. Price Gouge'n is done up in Reggae rhythms, sounding a bit like something Dr. Demento might have played back in his show's heyday. The song is extremely catchy and danceable and sounds like it's done tongue-in-cheek. Ode To Howard Beale (No Nations) has Weinberg sounding like a cross between Cat Stevens and Eminem, exhorting listeners to see who really pulls governmental strings. The Bertrand Williams Song (Single Ply) examines the difficulties of minimum wage workers to make ends meet. The Energy Commission revisits the Reggae vault for this tune which is very full lyrically but loses much of the vitality heard in Price Gouge'n. Mediocracy (If It Bleeds) takes on the vulture-like media culture that has evolved in the US, implying that the current media environment may in fact engender violent behavior. Drug Away takes on our cultures growing dependency on pharmaceutical solutions to pain and suffering.

I have no doubt that Jay Weinberg believes strongly in a whole host of social issues, many of which he touches upon on 10,000 Hours Of The Energy Commission, but the presentation here is a bit too much for one sitting. Price Gouge'n plays like the spontaneous composition it was, coming at a time when Weinberg was writing music for the utter joy of doing so. The fact that the song turned out to be lightning in a bottle fueled both Weinberg's musical ambitions and his desire to effect change in the world around him. The difficulty is that much of 10,000 Hours doesn't have that spontaneous joy. It's very apparent that Weinberg is now writing for a purpose other than for himself; the spark of life that Weinberg displays on Price Gouge'n is in short supply on the rest of the record. This happens sometimes when an artist transitions from writing at their own pace and for their own reasons to suddenly being known and having to produce. The songs themselves are solid but devoid of the vivacity The Energy Commission is capable of.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Energy Commission at or, where you can purchase a copy of 10,000 Hours.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I took a listen, and I must say, it's not too shabby! Very strong message guys! LOVE "The Damnage" and "Ode To Howard Beale". Keep it up!