Opposite Day has crossed a lot of different sonic boundaries over their career. They’ve played the hard rock/metal hangout of Room 710 and they’ve played the world/reggae/jam confines of Flamingo Cantina. And, they’ve brought their act to the insanely colorful and absurd Carousel Lounge more than once. If there’s one thing to know about Opposite Day, it’s that since their 2003 debut Economics of Mr. Ugly, the band has refused to be stylistically pinned down. Thankfully their fourth album What Is Is? (Future Banana Replacement) is fourteen more tracks of indescribable infectious rock and roll.
On Economics for Mr. Ugly, Opposite Day charted a deviant course of twisting funky bass lines, quirky lyrics, and spunky guitars. Then on their subsequent releases after the departure of their original drummer, seemed to lose a bit of the mad scientist meets The Minutemen vibe and dabbled in something that would best be described as almost Phish band friendly. Fortunately, over the past two or three years, the crazy gene has returned to their DNA and the band that made both Madonna and Disney show tune covers so much fun reappeared! On What Is Is?, Greg Yancey’s bass lines pop, Sam Arnold’s guitars buzz just enough, and Pat Kennedy helps the band march to the beat of another planet again.
Beginning with “Bacteria Know Everything” and “Hungry Kitchen”, the band sounds once again like something Mike Watt might have dreamed up if he were forced to listen to Frank Zappa records nonstop before recording. The beauty of Opposite Day has always been that it’s almost impossible not to love them, because they’re so goddamned different and it never sounds forced. If you can’t smile when Arnold sings the chorus of “Vegetablesssssss! Vegetablessssss! Oh my mom, won’t you send me some” on (what else?) “Vegetables”, you are hopefully six feet underground. Opposite Day has always excelled at blending an edge of metal shredding with the noodling of a jam band, but on “Earthworms” the band finally combines both parts of that split personality into their most accessible song yet with a powerful hook filled chorus. In the days when college radio actually existed, “Earthworms” would conceivably be played before the 3am math rock weirdo hour — it’s that good. Nowadays, there’s got to be a faint hope that a taste making blog can appreciate the song, right?
On “What Is Is?”, Opposite Day have come full circle from their debut and their explorations of their second and third albums. Years ago they played The Little Mermaid’s “Under the Sea”; now they’re a band that covers “Martha My Dear” and still don’t sound a bit grown up. From Disney to Lennon and McCartney, from metal to funk, or from indie to jam band all that matters is that listening to Opposite Day is guaranteed to spread a grin from ear to ear.