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CD Review: Von Robinson & His Universe 

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Von Robinson & His Own Universe Jostle it!#¢
Independent, 2007

The first thing that strikes you about Wappingers Falls’s Von Robinson & His Own Universe is the sugar-coated polish of the sound. A beautiful drum spectrum, honey-dripping doo-wops, and just the right mix of electronic bleeps dance around the acoustic and electric guitars, piano, and bass. Next, you notice Robinson’s voice. If you are an Elvis Costello fan, you might be assured by the familiarities or perhaps disappointed by the similarities; the resemblance is a bit uncanny, considering the vocal inflections, tone, and word placement in the melody. I think indie pop could use more Elvis and less Sufjan Stevens, so I was intrigued. Plus, given enough listens and a live show or two, I doubt it would matter. The lyrics are smart, a bit cryptic for the mainstream, but indie kids will love it. There is sufficient social and political subversion for the budding Bush basher, but it is elusive enough for an apathetic scenester who is more worried about retro haircuts than corporate-dominated democracy.

Bottom line: This is sugary-slick indie rock that is hard not to like. Its only offense is its lack of offensiveness. The music pulls you in enough to seek a connection. The irony in the presentation is clever, and it works, but a nugget of personal connection to Robinson himself would be nice. The lyrical resistance to impersonal corporate-dominated American culture has left me wondering why I can’t have more personality from the artist, not the artist as corporation.

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