Larry Evans & Friends
As little as I remember from years of schooling in the French language, the words to “Frère Jacques” will never leave me. And so when Larry Evans sings that chanterelles are not mushrooms but smell like apricots on Fungal Boogieman, a 12-track tribute to the Kingdom Fungi by a collection of local mycologophiles, I’m almost sure I’ll never forget those particular characteristics afterward. That’s a good thing because, as Evans points out in another song, “Everything’s got a fungus.”
Of course, music for pedagogical purposes can come off a little pedantic, and while Fungal Boogieman aims to entertain—and succeeds with bluesy and jazzy ditties about “Lepiota” and “Hebeloma”—it never quite escapes the aesthetic black hole that captures many mind-numbing educational sing-alongs suitable for Montana Public Radio’s “Pea Green Boat.” On the one hand, a songwriter should be congratulated for rhyming “may not like us” with “detritus” but, on the other, lines like “Fungus takes the gift that keeps on giving / until the caterpillar’s no longer living” seem sure to set off a scramble for the personification panic button.
There’s novelty aplenty in this lyrical invocation of heterotrophic eukaryotes with external digestive mechanisms, but novelty alone can’t keep it from being corny. Now if I could just get the songs out of my head. (Jason Wiener)