Wednesday, January 26, 2000

No dead-ends

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2000 at 12:00 AM

No one can accuse East River Pipe of romanticizing America’s myth of the self-made man – at least if The Gasoline Age is the evidence. As the one-man band East River Pipe, F.M. Cornog offers no tales of self-reinvention or speeding off into the horizon to start anew; instead, he demonizes the open road for its dead-end optimism, singing, "I keep travelin’ these highways in a long, black hearse."

Lost inside a history of missed exits and opportunities, Cornog uses delicate guitar lines to create a lush pop perfection out of road-weary desolation. His paper-thin voice is a near-whisper as he confesses god-forsaken intimacies, evoking endless 3 a.m. drives on seedy Jersey speedways.

The nearly 10-minute "Atlantic City" defines East River Pipe’s beauty and disillusionment: After sharing his darkest secrets, Cornog begs the casino city to "take it all away." He doesn’t even have faith that a city can do this, but he asks because we’re led to believe we can reinvent ourselves if we just up and go.

For Cornog, however, the great wide open offers up nothing more than lies, pain and busted knees, keeping him on the go, with no place to go.

On The Gasoline Age, at least, he’s learned that home is where the broken heart is.

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