Ford Corl is a Reno musician, videographer/editor for The C.A.R.E. Channel, and visual artist who continues to enthrall his fans and peers. The audio/visual savant is brimming with songs to share and a new album.
After film school, the now Emmy-winning director co-founded The Reno Sessions, a live music series documenting the town’s expansive musical cornucopia. His short films have played in film festivals around the country and he’s released five solo albums.
“This is definitely the hardest I’ve ever worked on an album,” Corl said. “I think it’s because this is the first album with other musicians on it.”
In Corl’s mind, he had to improve to meet the output of his compatriots.
“I’ve had some training along the way, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve been winging it all these years,” Corl said.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Ford Corl winging it. You can’t get off the couch, while Corl can wing an Emmy.
I took some random Renaissance literature class in college and the only thing that stuck was the word sprezzatura. It’s defined as a “studied carelessness.” An example would be, before playing a guitar solo, you say something like, “Man, I haven’t practiced in months, I’ll probably be rusty,” then they throw down the mad skills.
Corl is brimming with sprezzatura. The boldness and humor that makes him say “everything else was engineered and mixed by lil ‘ol me” and finding comfort in titling his newest release “The Dumb Album.”
The album is awesome. It contains eight tracks of powerful pop rock with tinges of sarcasm and surrealism. Their music borders seriousness and silliness, it mixes playful with strict, anthemic with melancholy, STRFKR with Smashing Pumpkins.
“It’s the catchiest, smelliest, poppiest, chonkiest, rockinest, dumbest album of the year,” Corl said.
Most of the choruses are sticky and addictive like “Day Goes On.” It’s approachable like pop, but twisted and nuanced. “Make Me” is an instant head-banger. “On TV” embodies the wrestling match between upbeat and despair. The vocal approach and coy darkness is reminiscent of The Alan Parsons Project. Go listen to “Sirius” and tell me you don’t miss live basketball.
I digress, Corl’s seldom cursing provides a colloquial and relatable realism.
“The gloves are off with this record,” Corl said. “I curse a lot when I talk, so that stuff made it on the record. I have always enjoyed hearing an errant “Fuck” in a pop song. It wakes you up out of the listening trance.”
I was instantly entranced by the two pillars of Corl’s wheelhouse: live performances and humor. The first time I saw his supergroup perform (Adam Carpenter of Moondog Matinee on bass, Shawn Sariti on guitar and Troy Elizares on drums), they packed The Loving Cup and pounded through a dozen captivating pop songs while timed visuals cascaded on the walls behind them.
I left the venue exhilarated, congratulated Corl, then noticed his license plate featured a reference from the psychedelic comedy show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! It’s been a whirlwind of killer shows, apocalyptic music videos, and silly Facebook animation posts since.
“The Dumb Album” is dark and straightforward. He touches on themes of failure, panic, society, and technology over driving guitars, exciting chord changes, stops and starts, and tastes from his previous records.
“I typically write about stuff that gives me anxiety or brings me sadness, but I always try to wrap it in a catchy pop song,” Corl said. “I landed on this loud and proud power pop record that has a little taste of every other genre I’ve dabbled in.”
The release is concise and extremely easy to re-listen to. “The Dumb Album” addresses Corl’s growing fear that he’s getting dumber as the years go on. He should be happy to know he’s sharper than ever.
A lesson for all of us. Don’t embrace your stupid stupidity. To be prolific like Corl, you gotta fight the dumb!