The Balance Sheet of Rock

Keepin' Up With the Joneses (ear X-tacy)
The Accountants

By Tim Roberts

Nearly 20 years after the end of the Decade of Conspicuous Consumption, when Motown oldies were used to sell shoes and ketchup was considered a vegetable, visible symbols of status abounded. Nowadays you can't drive two blocks down your street in your SUV without having to make way for a big-ass Humvee coming in the opposite direction, taking up a lane-and- a-half. You can't surf the satellite TV channels without landing on some decorating show where a second-generation yuppie and his artiste, pierced-in-a-dozen-places girlfriend have spent ten thousand bucks on a chrome bidet, then whine about how it doesn't match the color on the walls.

Unless we hitchhike into the wilderness and remain there for the rest of our lives, we have no escape from seeing people with all the obnoxious toys they buy themselves. Having stuff is okay and working to earn it is great. But to cut through all the crap that seems to get in the way, we don't need a Dylan-impersonating protest singer to share our pain (and shame us because we don't recycle). We have The Accountants to help us express how we feel about it all. And they have just released their second CD, Keepin' Up With the Joneses.

The Accountants is composed of four men, each one a professional accountant (one of them with a Ph.D.) who has an interesting sideline: They play hard-driving rock songs about all the shenanigans in the corporate world, the people that get victimized by greed and the shallow traps they can fall into when chasing after the latest and greatest gadgets. Their first release in 2001, Corporate Punks Amuck, may have seemed like a lark, an interesting side-project for a team of professional men. Joneses shows that they're serious.

Much like their first release, the songs do have a steady, hard-charging attitude, but there are several differences with this one. For one, they actually have a love song on it, "You," which was used in the soundtrack to the Stu Pollard film Keep Your Distance. Then they decorate "Fraud and Conspiracy," inspired by the several corporate financial scandals of the past few years, with a rap in the song's middle. There's also a darker, fanged version of The Beatles' "Taxman," and a cover of "Takin' Care of Business" done Beastie Boys style.

The Accountants has a line in the track "Crap Detector" that goes, "Save us, corporate Super Friend." Without a doubt, those whose daily war with sycophants, mini-tyrants and living proofs of the Peter Principle, where they are torn from a project with a looming deadline to spend two days in a seminar on the latest management fad (but they got these swell rubber bracelets and a keen management journal, see?), need a Super Friend. Someone who has walked a mile in their loafers, who doesn't get sidetracked by the pretty pictures on the motivational posters, who knows how hard it is not only keeping up with the Joneses, but to just keep up.

They have four of them in The Accountants. And they're back to make the workers of the world, whether they're exhausted construction workers or exasperated middle managers, to unite.

But in a way that would make ol' Karl Marx soil himself.

Unite with the others at