Long before touring with Neko Case and Carolyn Mark, Tolan McNeil did time in progressive Victoria punk acts like Pigment Vehicle and Mission Of Christ. These days, when not playing hired gun, he’s recording out-there indie iconoclasts such as Frog Eyes and Destroyer at his home studio. The above artists cover a lot of musical territory, so it’s no surprise There Will Always Be A Salesman does the same.
McNeil, who plays all the instruments here, starts things straight-up, fusing dusty roots-rock with Wire-lite guitars on “One Will Be Late”. That’s followed by the Depression-era gold of “Oakland Shuffle”, which begins with an Alan Lomax-like field holler before heading down a path blazed by Ralph & Carter Stanley.
Obviously unable to stick to one section of the record store, McNeil then proceeds to lose his mind. “Seat Sale” begins as a coffeehouse folk ballad, then explodes into a Frampton Comes Alive guitar freakout. The off-key instrumental “Anyone Can” counterbalances free-form dink-pop piano with rubbery bass and incandescent mandolin. “Mom Mom Mom” is a clamoring ode to Honeycombs warped enough to impress Ween.
McNeil eventually returns to something vaguely resembling normalcy with the pedal steel-fortified “A.S.A. 400”, but by then the damage has been done. There Will Always Be A Salesman is a hyper-ambitious work from the kind of weirdo your mother always warned you about. Take from that what you will.