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I Feel a Bit Normal Today

Chris Butler

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Album Review

In some ways, 1997's I Feel a Bit Normal Today is Chris Butler's first proper solo album, after 30 years in music. Tenures with the Numbers Band, Tin Huey, and the Waitresses precluded a proper solo career in the '70s and early '80s, and when Butler finally got around to making records under his own name in the mid-'90s, he started with a pair of bizarre formal experiments. The Devil Glitch, a 69-minute song with no instrumental solos and no repeated lyrics, earned Butler a slot in the Guinness Book of World Records, and The Wilderness Years was a never-completed experiment with obsolete recording technologies. I Feel a Bit Normal Today, recorded in fits and starts over the course of seven years, is Butler's first proper collection of songs, and it shows that his skills have not eroded since his Tin Huey/Waitresses days. The songs are less overtly humorous and have a bit more emotional depth than before; for all the funny lines in "Le French Movie," Butler's portrait of an awkward reunion with a college girlfriend is more wistful than sarcastic. Similarly, "Capitalism" and "Gun Day" treat their subjects, a Walter Mitty-like management trainee and a Travis Bickle impersonator, with empathy. Most of the songs are solo recordings, with Butler playing all the instruments, but a few guests pop in, most notably Butler's ex-Tin Huey bandmate Ralph Carney, who adds his characteristic reeds to "I Lie the Truth." On the closing "Architect or Doctor?," which recalls the Waitresses' similarly apocalyptic "Jimmy Tomorrow," various voices weave in and out of what sounds like a hallucinatory fever dream set to music. It's one of Butler's most impressive songs, and a fascinating end to a particularly solid album.

Biography

Born: 1949

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Chris Butler was born in 1949 in Chagrin Falls, OH, a suburb of Cleveland. While a sociology major at Kent State University in the early '70s, where he was among the student protestors fired upon by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970, Butler became involved in the Kent/Akron/Cleveland music scene, which included future members of Devo, the Pretenders, Pere Ubu, and many other bands. Through the '70s, Butler spent time in a variety of local groups, most notably 15-60-75, also known as the Numbers...
Full Bio
I Feel a Bit Normal Today, Chris Butler
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