July 12, 2007

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Jesse Harris, Feel
Velour Recordings, 2007

Department of Info-Smog: Anyone remember how the advertising industry was supposed to crack down on subliminal advertising? We all know how that idea slipped through the cracks and got stomped by Godzilla, and that there are 50-millisecond frames of hardcore porn in half the TV ads nowadays, right? Well, another thing that’s snuck past the guards is the Paul Simon Clone Army. Used to be that when a singer/songwriter who sounded exactly like Paul Simon sent out a review copy of their album, the music critic would Frisbee it off the head of the sports editor, then sit back and wait for a real Paul Simon album. With 50 billion albums being released every week in the MySpace era, though, it’s now a rubber-stamp process wherein the Rolling Stone writer might make brief, apologetic note of the Paul Simon-ness of the guy and make it a Top Pick just to be a jerk, whereas the Spin writer might miss the likeness entirely and swear it was God recorded live at Folkie Mountain. Jesse Harris is one of Norah Jones’ “favorite songwriters,” so perhaps there was a manufacturing snafu wherein I was sent a lesser-known Paul Simon Mini-Me who used the exact same hook in the exact same key for the first three songs, all of which sound like a slightly less exciting version of “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard.” If necessary, a retraction on this business will be printed if Paul Simon wants to make a visit to our offices to straighten everything out, but he’ll have to bring cheese, of course, like tons of cheese. D+Eric W. Saeger