Back in July of 2015, after I was coming home for my afternoon walk, there was an album that arrived in the mail. It was a trio from Austin, TX named Opposite Day and the name of their album was Space Taste Race Part 2 released on their label, Future Banana Replacement. This was a sequel to their 2013 EP Space Taste Race Part 1. For me, it was a crazy off-the-wall releases of their sixth full-length album that nearly blew me away.
Not just because it’s great, but the way they combined Art Rock, Math Rock, Pop, and odd-time signatures, with a twist to the master of the Grand Wazoo and Cardiacs maestro, Tim Smith. Since they launched 16 years ago in their hometown in Austin, Opposite Day described their music as “Educational Art-Rock for Animals” which describes their music very well. Not only that, but it is also, Jigsaw-puzzle complex music.
Bassist Greg Yancey, Lead Vocalist and Guitarist Sam Arnold, and drummer Pat Kennedy, released their new album this year entitled, I Calculate Great was recorded from 2015 to 2017 at Greg’s House. And it was Pat’s last album before departing last year as Eoghan McCloskey became the new drummer for Opposite Day. The artwork for the album is done by Tim Doyle which details of two pandas in spacesuits arriving back home from Earth after a long day in outer space.
With a cat watching in confusion on why they’ve come back for a long, long time and why they’ve waited for a long time to come back home. It is a very good detail and shown in their faces what will happen next for them. I Calculate Great is a very interesting mix. The trio bring more carte blanche and free rein while pushing the envelope further and further. But Sam Arnold brings in more of the ammunition to see what will happen next.
Radar Face opens to a full-scale assault between Sam and Greg’s bass. There’s these twists and turns from calm scenarios into punk-rock momentum with a helicopter approaching throughout the midsection as if Frank Zappa have come down and made a nice hot cooked meal that is very, very spicy for the Cardiacs to sink into.
Panda Formula begins with a psychedelic intro then turned into metal riffs. It’s part thrash, part math rock, and unexpected hoedowns in a different yet difficult time signature to swing your partner to the right with an Art Rock meets Texas Metallic rock style! Both Rules Are Rude and Ribbons & Lasers brings more of the wackiness to Opposite Day’s table.
Sam brings in more of the inspirations between Max Webster, Half Past Four, and Mr. Bungle into a giant blender to give Opposite Day a lot of insanity and crazy ideas to play around. But then, on Making Tornadoes it climbs upwards and downwards for the guitar to go left and right in stereophonic format. Sam does his Mike Patton-sque arrangement to nod his head and pay homage while the Tornadochestra go into an Uncle Meat arrangement.
The only track that never clicked with me is their take of David Bowie’s classic, Life On Mars? At first I wanted to hate this. Because I was thinking to myself listening to this, “Why are you doing this? It sounds too Circusy! You should it honor and stay true to the classic.” But then after a few listens, it’s not that bad, it’s not my cup of coffee. I know what Sam was trying to do, but again, it just didn’t click with me.
The closing track of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero is Opposite Day riding off into the sunset thanks to its militant bass and drums as the music rides off into the west. Sam does this incredible job on his guitar to make the sun go down playing the melody near the end to close the album off. Opposite Day have always peaked my interest since 2015. And they’ve always kept on my radar and it will be interesting to hear more and more of their music and see what will happen next.