By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Sean Na Na opens
Atom and His Package
Atom is Adam Goren, a slightly nerdy 24-year-old Philadelphian with an affinity for the metric system and a master's degree in neuroscience. His Package is a Yamaha QY700 sequencer, a computer-keyboard arrangement programmed with more than 500 musical intruments, only a few of which Goren seems to need. Over the course of three albums and a handful of singles, Atom has memorably used his guitar, an overactive imagination, and the aforementioned package to, among other things, outline his plan to build a large crane intended for throwing jerks into the ocean ("Avenger") and inform people in the computer lab to shut the hell up (uh, "People in This Computer Lab Should Shut the Hell Up"). He's also given shout-outs to 1,500-pound goalies ("Goalie"), confessed to his head-banging past ("Me and My Black Metal Friends"), and debated the relative merits of Sting and Tim Allen ("Sting Can't Possibly Be the Same Guy Who Was in the Police" and "Tim Allen Is Not Very Funny"). And he does it all in a voice that's either really annoying or almost endearing, and probably both.
Most of it is funny, but it's not a joke. Atom is much like another band from Philly, The Dead Milkmen, which as he rightly points out in the liner notes for his latest disc Making Love, were "[written] off as a band because they were funny...but they wrote some damn good songs." (He covers one of them, "Nutrition," on Making Love, somehow managing to also include the signature synth line from Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F," the theme song to Beverly Hills Cop.) He makes the same case for himself on Making Love. The album is a collection of EPs (Behold, I Shall Do a New Thing, his contribution to the Gun Court singles series, Atom and His Rockage) and compilation tracks that includes both of Atom's incarnations: one-man band and one man leading a band. While the songs that feature Atom and his backing band, Lobster Mobster, have their moments -- "Avenger," for one, tops the original -- he's still better by himself. Swiping a page from the Tommy Lee handbook, Atom doesn't need a band as long as he has his package.
Maybe Atom should watch his ass while he's in town, especially since he theorizes on "Hats Off to Halford" that "statistics say chances of being gay are one in 10, so there's a 40 percent chance that one of the guys in Pantera likes men." The boys in Pantera aren't exactly known for their sense of humor. Of course, unless one of the, ahem, dancers at the strip club owned by drummer Vinnie Paul happens to use "Hats Off to Halford" instead of the de rigueurRob Zombie song (there's definitely a reason Zombie's new remix album is titled American Made to Strip By), then there's not much to worry about. And even if Paul or one his bandmates did confront Atom, he could probably handle it. Just listen to how he dealt with a heckler -- one of two people in attendance, or so he says -- at the show where Lobster Mobster recorded the live Atom and His Rockage EP. "Stop playing," shouted the disgruntled fan as the band finished "Avenger," for some reason not deciding to start leaving instead. "Uh...we just did," Atom replied. "Hanh!" OK, he might need some help.
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