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Casco Bay Weekly: The Ego has landed

Casco Bay Weekly

Thursday, March 18, 1999

Casco Bay Weekly The Ego has landed
From Frank Zappa to the Barenaked Ladies, there's always been a special place in rock for smart alecks who poke fun at what's stupid and self-important in  music while producing their own meticulously crafted songs.  Boston singer-songwriter  Jim Infantino's band Jim's Big Ego is the latest in this grand tradition.  On the  group's third record, "Don't Get Smart," Infantino -- along with Dylan Callahan  on drums and Kurt Uenala on upright bass -- delivers a multitude of pop melodies  and satirical lyrics with such songs as "Ahead of the Curve," "Ugly People" and  "Punk Junkies from New York."  Musically the band manages to incorporate folk, funk, rap and rock into a seamless whole that's earned it comparisons to artists such as Lou Reed and Beck.
There are problems with making satirical/humorous content the centerpiece of one's music. For one thing, satire doesn't always age well.  When a trend becomes irrelevant,  so does the satire of it, no matter how insightful or witty.  For another, bands relying  solely on humor to sell songs can quickly devolve into silly novelty acts.  (Anybody  remember the Presidents of the United States of America?)
Jim's Big Ego doesn't completely avoid the aging problem. Since "junkie chic" has pretty much evaporated, "Punk Junkies from New York" has lost any bite it might have had when  it was written. But the band smartly avoids the novelty route by bringing honest emotion  to songs like "I Like to Watch," "Jumblies," "Cheat to Lose" and "Love Everybody." It also  helps that Infantino is as skilled a songwriter as they come these days.  Jim's Big Ego  may be a funny band, but you have to take it seriously.
Jim's Big Ego plays at the Fine Arts Theater, 627 Congress St., Portland, on Thursday,  March 18.  Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tix: $3. 772-7662.