audiotrack We’ve Been Had Again

reviewed by Carey Dean Potash

Published in Issue No. 17 ~ October, 1998

The next time your friend asks you what you’ve been listening to lately, tell him Huffamoose. Your friend will no doubt cock his head to the side like he’s just seen Rupaul out of makeup and say “Huffawho?” “Huffamoose!” you’ll say louder this time, enjoying the way it sounds leaving your lips. “Huffamoose, Huffamoose!” you’ll repeat. “Huffamoose, Huffamoose!” Your friend will then smack you in the jaw and say “never heard of em.”

If your friend has heard of them, well then a.) your friend’s a liar; b.) he’s as hip as they get; or c.) he’s a Philly native, where the band is local royalty and revered as much (well, almost) as the cheesesteak.

What is a Huffamoose? Good question. I traveled to the far edges of the continent to get a glimpse of this mysterious creature. I spoke to gypsies older than the Sun. I shared peyote buttons with desert peasants (I was hungry, serious). This is what they told me: Huffamoose is Canadian slang for somethin’ sexual. To paraphrase, let’s just say that if the name Huffamoose was already taken, other options would be The Pipe Smokers, The Hummers or The Monicas. Get me?

Don’t believe lead singer Craig Elkins when he sings “I write the songs that make the whole world think about absolutely nothing,” in his groggy 5-in-the-morning voice. He’s being humble. We’ve Been Had Again showcases a mooseload of talent from four guys who managed to amalgamate modern jazz backgrounds into radio-friendly pop.

It’s obvious from tracks like “Enigmatic,” “Like a Weed” and “Speeding Bullet” that these are academic musicians who know their way around their instruments. They follow no clear structure and are hard to describe since the songs touch on so many styles. For instance “Speeding Bullet” is a frantic never-ending jazzy jam session complete with a Santanaesque guitar solo. “Like a Weed” is a bluegrass ho-down with a locomotive tempo and “James” is a simple, gentle acoustic melody.

My favorite song on the album is “Wait.” It’s a phenomenal song backed up by lyrics that seem to spill from Elkins’ head like surreal stream of consciousness. He sings:

Carnival hazy eyes tango lovers tranquilize
in patterned prances secret glances
of high strung tip toe fringe of a taut
    brown leather
strikes me down with the weight of a feather
we’ll be moving love forever together

An obvious first impression may be Steely Dan, but that doesn’t hold true throughout the record.

Elkins does his best white-man Barry White in “Enigmatic.”

You will be my lifeline baby
you will be my better half
you will be my soldering iron
you will be my golden calf
you will be my tryptophan
you will be my coffee can
you will be the recipient of all my love

Now that’s romance. Amino acids are very sexy.

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Carey Dean Potash graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in English. He works as an editor for an online news provider. He's only begun 'writing' short stories, his fiction appearing in a zine called Sink Full of Dishes and in the May issue of Pif. In his words, "I don't plan on riding horseback through the Rainforests with martini in hand at some $10,000 summer writing workshop. I've also never been a roadie for Kiss. And aside from winning 'Best Hair' in the eighth grade, I haven't won any contests." A major influence of his was Dave Louapre, who wrote a short-lived comic strip called Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children.