I haven’t heard all of Jim O’Rourke’s music but I realize that he’s kind of a pervert. He really does not mind sharing some of his most interesting thoughts, often sexual. Very often. For example, just look at the cover of his album Eureka… yeeeah, that’s just weird. And, look at the title of this EP of his, released a few months after Eureka: Halfway to a Threeway. Well, we definitely already know one of O’Rourke’s goals/fantasies before even hear the music. (Pretentious Blogger Alert) It takes a certain type of music fan to listen to the music presented after seeing some of these covers or titles, one that might understand his perversion or weirdness as a vital part of the music because it is a vital part of the man who made it. Whoever decides to give it a chance will be pleased. O’Rourke is a talented musician and songwriter, one who is not afraid to experiment with different, unusual sounds, styles, and lyrics in his music.
O’Rourke’s most fan acclaimed album seems to be Eureka, released in 1999. Even after a shitty Pitchfork review (boo-hoo), it still has seemed to gain attention for its sometimes-folky, sometimes-jazzy, sometimes a little over-the-top sound (that’s broad, listen to the album). So, around this time Jim must have been feeling pretty creative. This brings us to Halfway to a Threeway, released not long after Eureka. While Eureka featured all those styles thrown onto one album, Halfway mainly employs a folky sound. It’s a simpler approach, and I would call this the best group of songs I personally have heard from O’Rourke, better overall than his previous full length (even though this is only a twenty minute EP).
Halfway features four songs, all of them worth hearing The lyrics are typically very strange, with all sorts of Velvet Underground-like topics (at least that’s who I think of when listening to some of his words), like cross-dressing and sex, but they are backed by very pretty, folky music that makes you a little surprised when you find out what he’s actually talking about.
The EP starts with “Fuzzy Sun,” maybe the most “standard” song in the release but still very good and pretty catchy. To compare it to a more modern indie band, I would say Fleet Foxes. “Not Sport, Martial Art” is next and is the only instrumental song featured. It has multiple parts and has some great, tight playing from O’Rourke (on guitar) and his fellow musicians (the drummer is very solid).
“The Workplace,” at almost eight minutes, is the longest song on the album, and probably its best. The lyrics seem to be about cross-dressing: “Women look good here, with men’s clothes on…,” or maybe they’re about something deeper and more personal, hiding behind facades maybe. Whatever it is about, the playing is again great from the musicians, with multiple false stops to keep things interesting. The end of the song has four minutes of “da-das,” but its great and beautiful for the entire time. Have the patience for it. The EP closes perfectly with its title track. Featuring only acoustic guitars, vocals, and some overdubbed backing vocals, the song is very simple and very spooky sounding. The lyrics are what you’d expect. Read them to figure it out. The end of the song features more “da-das,” which in my book are welcome if they sound this nice.
Don’t be scared of the lyrics or Eureka’s album cover, Jim O’Rourke is worth hearing, and this EP is the perfect place to start. I mean, look at that happy ass looking frog on the cover, he wants YOU to listen! Listen to this album on a sunny day, when you’re just chillin and thinking. Recently for me, its been the perfect thing to listen to on many occasions, and it can do that for many if given the chance.