Johnny Unicorn 

Sadness and Companionship

Johnny Unicorn has recorded more songs that provide reasons to love him than not. The 2011 album Thinking Hard to Overcome Nervousness is an electro-pop fantasy on par with the good-weirdness of Har Mar Superstar. Or, to bring it closer to home, it's like if Bad Naked put some clothes on and started playing the keyboard.

The Seattle artist describes his new album, Sadness and Companionship, as the "world's first progressive rock exercise album." In light of that characterization, I realized I couldn't just sit still and listen to it. So I went out, grabbed my headphones and started to exercise. Well, I listened to it while playing a round of disc golf, so close enough. Sadness and Companionship sounds like the better parts of the soundtrack to Dreamcast's Sonic the Hedgehog. It's beautifully chipper but, like any video game music, tragically trapped in repetition reserved for background music. The first two tracks, each coming in at over 14 minutes, get you pumped, no doubt about it. I was happily throwing those discs until the guitars got weird, and then I began to throw them with even more vigor. The second half of the album turns out to be just short-form remixes of the first two songs, making Sadness and Companionship even more boxed into one sound. Still, despite the weird '80s throwback and the easy video game segues, the album will propel you into action, whether it's on the dance floor or on a stationary bike.

Johnny Unicorn, along with Michigan's The Plurals, Needlecraft and The Hounds, plays the VFW Sun., July 14, at 9 PM. $5.

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