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Shining Hours in a Can

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Album Review

Here's a reissue of Fred Cornog's first LP, a collection of his early singles originally self-released on his little Hell Gate label plus other early tracks. It's the perfect look-back. Recording alone in his economical Astoria, Queens apartment with a basic Tascam 388 mini-studio using "two guitars, an old Gibson bass, a Yamaha YS200 keyboard, a Peavey 50 amp, a couple effects pedals and a drum machine," Cornog initially seems like just another home demo bozo. That is until one actually spins the singles and a rare artisan emerges from this humble hiding place. The work of someone who overcame post-childhood trauma that led to alcoholism and homelessness, Cornog invested that mental fragility into his words and sighing singing. Yet the music itself was as enthusiastic and often quietly dreamy, optimistic counterpoint! You see it best in the urban-survivalist manifesto opener, "Make a Deal With the City," and similar anticipatory glee of "Happy Town," or the simple, "She's a Real Good Time." But it's also there in the more gritty Big Apple realism of "Times Square GoGo Boy" (covered by For Against on Shelflife), "Firing Room" and "When Will Your Friends All Disappear." Plus, Firing Room's consistent tunes has made it such a favorite for covers, such as his best hook, "Psychic Whore."

Biography

Formed: 1989 in New York, NY [Queens]

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

East River Pipe is the guise of singer/songwriter F.M. Cornog, who began recording his melancholy one-man pop on a Tascam 388 mini-studio in his apartment in Astoria, NY. Born in Suffolk, VA, and raised in Summit, NJ, Cornog followed a difficult childhood with a series of jobs in a carpet warehouse, a greenhouse, and a light bulb factory. After a longstanding bout with alcoholism and an emotional breakdown cost him his job and left him homeless, Cornog hit rock bottom; while sleeping in a Hoboken...
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Shining Hours in a Can, East River Pipe
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