See also: An Interview with the King of Endicott
On the latest Gary Wilson record, The King of Endicott, Gary incorporates the outer space themes he visited on his last album Let’s Go to Outer Space into an ode to his hometown of Endicott, New York. Musically it’s very much a logical step from Outer Space. Gary’s really settled into this great sound that’s like bouncy extraterrestrial pop music. Experimental and extremely catchy at the same time, The King of Endicott never gets stale. It’s an album in the classic sense of the LP: one that should be listened to all the way through.
“Don’t waste your time being all alone, I’m gonna take you to the Twilight Zone,” Gary tells his date on “The Town Of A Thousand Lights,” before declaring “solo” and launching into a great organ part. One of the main things I noticed that’s different about this album is Gary does this a lot. You would think this would get annoying, but the organ/keyboard parts are so off-beat and sound so interesting that it just adds to the effect of general weirdness that pervades the album. I really loved the drums on Outer Space and they continue in the same vein on King of Endicott. Plenty of tom and plenty of cowbell. “The Lonely Park” is a particular highlight on the album for me, as I see it as a kind of sequel to “Gary’s In The Park.” Definitely the most instantly catchy song on the record for me. Just in case you forgot, Gary tells his date on this one, “Let’s take a trip to the planet Mars!”
“Every night I walk through my lonely town, cause’ I see you standing there with the chromium clown.” The opening line on “I Don’t Want To Be Alone” creates the perfect sense of melancholy and nostalgia. I’ve always wondered who the chromium clown is exactly. Is it Gary imagining an alternate sad version of himself, or an archetype of the guy whose girl you want to steal because he’s such a chump? Regardless, this album manages to be super relatable to anyone who’s experienced unrequited love. Could this be Gary’s most personal album?
I’ve concluded after doing a deep dive into all of Gary Wilson’s material that along with his latest release, The King of Endicott, Gary is incapable of making a mediocre album. He’s always refining his sound, while at the same time retaining elements of previous albums so there aren’t any radical departures. The greatest change in Gary Wilson’s sound came in the the 2000s when his music took on both a more lounge-music quality, and a sound that greater reflected the influence of late 1950s-early 1960s teen idol music which Gary grew up on before Beatlemania hit. No surprise that he has an established background playing bass for lounge gigs.
Zappa is an obvious touchstone for Gary, but his music is consistently upbeat. Gary Wilson creates this decidedly bizarre environment with his music, but at the same time he wants to make you feel good and have a good time. Gone is the amorphous space girl from Let’s Go to Outer Space. We’re back to Linda, Debbie, Cindy, Lugene: you know all the regulars.
Gary’s musical universe has always revolved around his hometown of Endicott, New York, where it’s always Friday night. It’s fitting that at this point in his career, Gary has decided with The King of Endicott to take things a step further with a concept album about Endicott. The music itself has never sounded better, and I really hope Gary makes it out to tour this one on the East Coast.
“I wanna hold your hand and I’ll take you to my magical land,” Gary promises on the title track. With The King of Endicott, he indeed did so.