A John Trubee Primer

For an artist who’s insisted on going it alone for most of his career, John Trubee took his time creating his own record label. Founded in 2013, Trubee Records is the horse’s mouth for the songwriter’s lyrical lunacy and musical madness, and these three releases are the perfect starting point for the curious listener.

‘A Blind Man’s Penis and Other Smash Hits, John Trubee & the Ugly Janitors of America

This album is the perfect starter kit for anyone interested in Trubee’s music. Spanning decades and collecting songs that have long since gone out of print, the record opens with the infamously offensive “Blind Man’s Penis,” done up in its original, classic Nashville recording. Other tracks feature longstanding Trubee collaborators like vocalist Mark Langton and pedal steel guitarist Chas Smith, and the songs range from the silly to the serious. Trubee rails against normal ninnies on “Little Boy Melvin Rides Again” and posturing mallrat teens on “Your Stupid Friends.” In between these tirades, Trubee’s lyrics reflect deeper longings and emotions on tracks like “High Tide” and “Song of the Tiger.” There’s true beauty in these tunes, and Trubee’s evolution is on full display here.

‘Nude Woman Exdocrius, John Trubee and the Ugly Janitors of America

This record represents Trubee’s latest output, recorded in Los Angeles and Cotati in 2013, and it’s probably his heaviest effort to date. Sprawling guitars, eight-minute jams and passionate lyrics all come together for a supremely satisfying album. Stunning San Francisco vocalist Laurie Amat lends her operatic voice to songs like “People Are Idiots,” a gem that will get stuck in your head for weeks. Inspired by the idea of Mary Poppins singing about morons instead of spoonfuls of sugar, Amat’s twirling, twinkling pipes are a blessing for Trubee, and expands his vision with comedic prowess on other tracks like “Hag Marcella,” a light-hearted romp about doing in a former co-worker that’s not unlike the Beatles’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” If you’re wondering what “exdocrius” means, it’s a made-up word, a piece of Trubee’s imagination that illustrates his cracked sense of humor.

‘Continuing Where the Beatles Left Off . . . , Gloop Nox and the Stik People

This album goes all the way back to Trubee’s earliest days in his first high school band. Described as progressive rock with a juvenile sense of humor, the band was short-lived. In 2011, Trubee reunited with fellow founding member Jim Nevius and a host of seasoned New York musicians to record the old tunes anew. Steeped in the classic sounds that Trubee grew up on in the 1960s, the record also hints at the weird musical world that Trubee would go on to cultivate, with songs like “Ex-Lax Superstars from Hell Vomiting in Ecstasy.”