Ego Summit-The Room Isn’t Big Enough

June 16, 2009

Ego Summit

The Room Isn’t Big Enough(Old Age No Age 1997)

http://www.mediafire.com/?h3dy2gmpjde

Many of my formative years were spent in a sleepy college town near Pittsburgh. It was during this time that my older and wiser friends instilled a deep love for the musics of both Pittsburgh and its close neighbor, the state of Ohio. It was a hard sell to a young man who used to look to Melody Maker and the NME for musical discoveries, but it wasn’t long before they had me thinking that the Bassholes, Speaking Canaries, Guided by Voices, V-3, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Don Caballero, Karl Hendricks Trio, etc. were the bee’s knees and that my prior loves were a bunch of flimsy powder puffs. To be honest, there was a grit and ramshackle charm to all of the aforementioned bands that opened my ears to musics far less polished than my dainty ears were accustomed. I guess one could make the argument that other midwestern cities harbored bands who excelled in the art of the artless, unpretentious pop genius, albeit in a mangled form. It may be a broad and possibly offensive generalization, but the similarities are not surprising since these musicians were probably bored by the same things, listened to to similar records and rounded up fellow weirdos to pass the time making music. I rarely, if ever hear modern music that sounds like anything from this era because its best bands were products of a certain time and place that is hard to imitate or improve upon.

Despite my gushing like a Twilight fan, I am far from an expert on the backroads of both locales. Therefore, It took me more than ten years to discover what may be the best American rock albums of the 90s. Man, even I think I am being a bit hyperbolic as I type those words, but I have listened to this record dozens of times in the past year and it is such a bitter, misanthropic listen that it kind of sticks to you like tar after a few listens. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of really vulnerable man feelings being expressed here. A lot of material deals with fucked protagonists trying to make sense of love, disappointment and their direction in life, but maybe that is because Jim Shepherd of V-3 is involved. That man always knew how to make the ugliest sentiments somehow sound uplifting in a damaged way that made you wonder if you related a bit too much to his worldview. 

Now, what in the hell does Ego Summit have to do with Pittsburgh? Well, absolutely nothing, but I’m always looking for a way to piggyback my own backstory into these piddling reviews. However, Ego Summit were as close to a supergroup that Ohio could muster in the mid 90s. I am biased in this praise since Don Howland(Bassholes), Jim Shephard(V-3) and Ron House(Great Plains, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apts) were three of my favorite songwriters at various points in my life. They were joined by fellow stalwarts Mike Rep and Tommy Jay and their one and only album, The Room Isn’t Big Enough, somehow accommodates their divergent styles and tastes into something that is cohesive despite sounding as if the wheels may pop off at any moment. 

The opener “Beyond the Laws” epitomizes why I love this album so. The opening riff is one part Stones boogie, one part extended psychedelic jam before Ron House goes off about some nihilistic vision quest where he is going to go beyond the laws of man and hope that someone reels him back in before he goes too far. If that wasn’t morbid enough, Jim Shepard’s “Illogical” follows it up with a confused anthem that kind of breaks my heart despite its anthemic qualities. It is ultimately about a man who finds the entire world around him to be illogical and all too easy to throw away. It is even sadder when put in context of his suicide in 1999. The rest of The Room Isn’t Big Enough lets in little sunlight as subsequent tracks champion the numbing of all feelings and emotion, the futile nature of domesticity and loathing of the American dream. These are sincere expressions of disillusionment with life, country and lasting relationships with all women. The malaise and deep dissatisfaction with life in a decaying city located in a fucked up country permeates each song and it kind of drags you down into the mire. When listening to Ego Summit, I guess you either thank your lucky stars that life hasn’t crushed you in such a manner or embrace their misanthropic musings as gospel from those who got stepped on just like you.

7 Responses to “Ego Summit-The Room Isn’t Big Enough”

  1. mrowster Says:

    Nice post. That sense of disillusionment you mention to above is what sticks with me most powerfully about this record, and in fact all of Jim’s work in the 90s. He deserves a bigger audience.

    Coincidentally . . . I blogged a bit about Jim the very same evening you posted this. Do check it out:

    http://mrowster.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/tribute-madness/

  2. icastico Says:

    This one is new to me.
    Thanks.

  3. bob Says:

    nice one. next please, sir.

  4. syllannibal Says:

    Hey, nice blog! I was lookin for Psychic Tv’s pagan Day and I Found it here, thanks!
    btw, I linked you in my blog 😉

  5. syllannibal Says:

    I forgot! my blog: http://syllannibal.wordpress.com/

  6. Bryan G Says:

    I’m totally into the idea of this is what we got to work with lets make the best records we can because we fuckn have to. All of these folks are keepers of the flame in a long line of stuff from It’s War Boys to Xpressway to Woodsist. Excellent stuff.


  7. […] 3. EGO SUMMIT – Illogical (1997) *The Room Isn’t Big Enough “Ego Summit were as close to a supergroup that Ohio could muster in the mid 90s. I am biased in this praise since Don Howland (Bassholes), Jim Shephard (V-3) and Ron House (Great Plains, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apts).They were joined by fellow stalwarts Mike Rep and Tommy Jay, and their one and only album, The Room Isn’t Big Enough, somehow accommodates their divergent styles and tastes into something that is cohesive despite sounding as if the wheels may pop off at any moment.” – Magic Is Tragic […]

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