By at 9:47 AM Sunday, November 15th 2009


Don’t Judge An EP By Its Stupidly Juvenile Title

Puscifer, Reviews


Dwelling in a carnal carnival atmosphere thick enough to choke on, Puscifer is Tool / A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan’s private playground of self-indulgence and social collaboration that requires far less analytical astuteness than his bands. Known for crude sexual references, multi-character stage shows and a wide range of guests, the bizarre creative context of one of Rock’s most powerful and versatile singers is laid out, unchecked, for us to explore. Results may vary.

Maynard James Keenan is Puscifer

“C” Is For (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE) is a collection of six tracks – three new songs, one unreleased favorite and two evolved live versions of tracks from the project’s 2007 debut full-length album, “V” Is For Vagina. Rather than the multilayered metaphors veiling introspective and sociopolitical commentary that pervade his other work, the EP is full of poetic imagery and songs of comfort, of isolationism and cold beauty. Though you wouldn’t know it by title/cover art alone.

As with their debut, this is not the place for Maynard’s apocalyptic wailing. It’s here that he holds a candle in high winds, delicately moving through each piece with a soft croon as soulful, eerily gorgeous harmonies weave in and out, alternately countering and complimenting melodies and rhythms. During Vagina Mine it’s easy to forget that you’re listening to a live recording; the “V” track is much more fleshed out, grinding and pulsing in ways the original release only hinted at.

Mission, featuring actress/model/spider-lady Milla Jovovich in glass-shattering tones of bratty mememe sexuality over Keenan’s whispery eroticism and an absolutely grating “What do you know?” loop on every eight count. It’s a misstep to pair the track with the beautifully somber Momma Sed, encapsulating a mother’s wisdom in a distinctly Maynard-esque way: “Life will pound away where the light don’t shine, son. Take it like a man.” Keenan’s voice is a ray of warm comfort in a sea of isolation, an acceptance that heartbreak is inevitable but “this pain will pass away”.

The fact that Potions sounds like A Perfect Circle mixed with Year Zero-era Nine Inch Nails leads one to the curious fact that NIN nucleus Trent Reznor is credited on the track. Low-pulsing industrial synths and ’80s pop-rock melancholy over steel acoustics play under Keenan’s falsetto, chilly and yet comforting at once. It’s a valuable player on “C” is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE), but the true highlight is Humbling River, a building, percussive rhythm that becomes a thundering pulse. Featuring gorgeous harmonies by Carina Round & Devo Keenan, Maynard’s teenage son, the feeling of belonging and bracing for a storm among the fellow devoted is a powerfully moving one. Maynard’s “Brave the icy wind and fire” counters Carina and Devo’s “It’ll take a lot more than words and guns,” creating a cross-stream current that transcends anything else on the EP.

This is a solid collection of tracks that feature several colors from the softer side of Keenan’s musical quiver, and fans won’t have trouble finding at least one song to tune their heartstrings to. It’s not nearly as sexually charged and juvenile as its title may suggest, and while some may be disappointed in that, it’s for the best.



“C” Is For (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE)

Puscifer - "C" is for (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE)
Released: 10/11/2009
Label: Puscifer Entertainment
1. Polar Bear
2. The Mission (M Is for Milla Mix)
3. Momma Sed (Alive At Club Nokia)
4. Vagina Mine (Alive At Club Nokia)
5. Potions (Deliverance Mix)
6. The Humbling River

Meanwhile, On The Internet...

  1. I want to slap the person responsible for the cover art.

  2. Kevin Lee says:

    This is really tough to enjoy knowing who is creating it. If a relative unknown was creating this stuff I might be intrigued but MJK has built a mountain of epic. This seems like a way to grab bags of money knowing TOOL/APC fans will snag it up in a heartbeat and sing it’s praises just because MJK created it. Forget this junk and review the debut of Closure in Moscow. Great new band from Australia. Mixture of Mars Volta, RX Bandits, and Coheed and Cambria. Are we going to get a Nick Oliveri review?

  3. Thanks for the suggestion, the band’s pretty good, but I can’t get past the vocals. As for Nick, jury’s still out….

  4. Kevin Lee says:

    Haven’t heard Nick’s stuff yet. Was hoping you guys would decide that for me. I love the vocals but understand how people would be put off by them. I enjoy my falsetto.

  5. Yeah they just ride the emo stick a little too hard. As for Nick’s album, every part of me wants to hate it… hard to get around.

  6. Kevin Lee says:

    See what you mean. I look at these guys like Rx Bandits. Really wasn’t a fan of the ska scene but saw potential and now look at them. Looking for stronger showings from these guys in the future.

  7. Ricardo says:

    Calling Puscifer a MJK-cashgrab is missing the point by miles. It is a venue for his musical impulses his other bands/projects could not satisfy and we are all the better for it. I may have come for Maynard, but I stay for the music. This EP is pure ear-sex. A vagina mine indeed.

  8. Andy says:

    Kevin Lee: Its obvious that you either dont appreciate MJK’s musical adventures or you simply did not listen to the EP. I think its brilliant, and the songs were way better than I had anticipated. The Puscifer album was lacking consistency, but the material was generally good (some of it now new and improved!).

    Calling this EP a cashgrab is bullshit, because a whole lot of care and love has obviously been put into creating this material. Just because you cant appreciate something other than your regular old shit doesnt mean that others cant, and I for one truly appreciate MJK’s experimenting. Its way better that he uses this as his musical outlet for material that doesnt fit for Tool, and at the same time make it even more special, rather than force it as Tool as some artists would have done.

    So, just let Puscifer pound away where the light dont shine, son. Take it like a man.

  9. Kevin Lee says:

    Andy: Settle down man. I have listened to it and came to my own conclusions. It is better than the full album but still pretty bad. After multiple bad releases now it comes across as a cash grab to me. Doesn’t mean you have to agree. If you like the album that is great. I can see why some people would enjoy it but I think it sucks. Simple as that. No need to get so defensive. You also helped prove my point on why I believe it is a cash grab. Consistency across the board is lacking. MJK has the resources to control that. Like I said, if it was a relative unknown then I probably would appreciate it more. I would disagree that a whole lot of care and love has been put into it. Art looks like garbage and the titles are ridiculously juvenile as mentioned. A band/experiment that has it’s own store seems like a cash grab. He sells $0.25 targets he shot on his property in AZ for $100, don’t tell me he isn’t smart enough to know he can finance his winery but selling stupid shit to TOOL fans that will buy anything his name is attached to. Try listening to Hooker with a Penis. There is a message there my friend.

  10. Sam Chapman says:

    I’m not sure if Johnny Firecloud will get this message but I’d like to say that this is one of the best “comprehensive” band write-ups I have read in a long time. Short on the current trend of sensationalism strong on analytical imagery that conveys a full hearted feel for the music.

    Nice work.

  11. Greatly appreciated, Sam. Thank you kindly.

  12. Decapitated Soul says:

    I Think the album is very creative so isnt all the other work espeacialy with the defferent people he is working with it just makes it ten times better and the shows are amazing and to think his son could be a star one day is amazing just decided to leave a comment cause this looks like an amatuer approach to just bag on artists which is pathetic but what do you know there always has to be something like it

  13. Meta says:

    Fuck you, Kevin Lee. It’s really tough to enjoy this web page with you leaving droppings of ignorance on it. Differring of opinion is fantastic, but where’s your fucking critique of the music itself? This stuff is nothing similar to Tool or APC (Personally I’d value Maynard’s Puscifer work ten times above APC). Why isn’t APC just a money-grab for you, fucker? Because you LIKE it. By the way, you can buy individual songs from this and other Puscifer albums for a dollar each; buy entire albums and the price per-song drops even more. Gold for the price of dirt. The message in Hooker with a Penis is directed at dumbass pseudo-fans like yourself. Here’s another Maynard quote you should absorb: “There are so many wonderful things to discover out in the wide wide world of the interweb and the world in general. Blows my mind that people would waste their time slamming stuff they don’t like or don’t understand. Go find the stuff you like. Things you like to hear, taste, smell, touch, see. And let those events and moment inspire you to go create something that expresses that same moment. Just a thought.” Heed his words if you won’t heed mine. And please keep your advertising shit out of reviews for other music, spam-boy. -*- Much love for this album, I adore the way Pucsifer adapt their songs to play them live; gives them a whole further level of vibrancy and life. All three of the new songs are excellent, I can’t decide which I like best. Grab the MP3s from the site, if you like so much as one other song from Puscifer, you’ll love this stuff. Can’t wait for the next album if they keep going uphill like this. x)

  14. leakeg says:

    IMO Puscifer’s firt album is better than anything else Maynard has done (barring of course Lateralus). I imagining many people are disregarding it purely because it contains no distorted electric guitars. Why do people still adhere to these arbitrary guidelines that the only music that is ‘real’ music is that which is created with guitars?

  15. Jon Payne says:

    I for one, am tempted to say that I enjoy Puscifer moreso than I do APC or Tool nowadays. Admittedly, I’ve only ever been a temperate fan of Maynard’s work (although I am very excited to be seeing Tool live for the first time this summer), but nevertheless I have always enjoyed his vocals and his intricate and awe inspiring lyrics. The music is cool too, don’t get me wrong, but those previously stated have been the staples that have kept me coming back for more. With Puscifer, I feel that it is more of a vehicle to express strange ideas and word formations that would have no real place in the schematas of ideology of the prior two bands that he has worked on. The music is more simple I’d probably admit, but sometimes there is great beauty in simplicity. The dream-like quality of their narrative makes me hungry for more.

    Just my opinion. Great review as well I must say, Peace out all.

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