Anna Minard, our city hall reporter, claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we're forcing her to listen to all the records that music nerds consider important.

Wreckless Eric

Wreckless Eric

(Stiff Records)

Here's Wreckless Eric: He is such a party boss! He's your weirdest and funniest friend. Every minute with him is a reminder of why we bother to be alive. He makes fun of "grown-ups" and capitalism and makes jokes about butts. Look at his goofy joy face on that cover! But he's also the kind of guy who, for example, wants to bring a saxophone to every party. Y'know? He's a lot, all the time. And when you say stuff like "Hey, Eric, maybe what if you didn't bring the sax this time, huh?" it never goes well. The look on his face is so surprised and hurt and offended that you immediately say, "Ha-ha! Gotcha with that one!" and pretend it was a joke, and even though there's no reason he should believe you, he does, because he just really loves the sax, man, and he loves you. Then there is a saxophone solo on your living room table, again. You know he's worth it, so you let it slide. "That's just Eric," you whisper affectionately to your significant other.

Question: Do you call him Eric, actually? Or is that his last name, and his first name is "Wreckless"? Or is "Wreckless" more of a title, like "Mister"?

Here are the two best songs: "Personal Hygiene" and "Brain Thieves." Obviously. The former is all about washing yourself—"Garnish your bottom with powder/Wipe it with paper/Wash it with embers and pumicing stones"—and then he says, basically, the stank of your body is probably not as concerning as the stank of your mind. THINK ABOUT IT. Then the latter is a song about brain thieves. You know, they steal your brain? I can't actually understand this nor find its lyrics on the internet, but when he starts screeching, "Braaaaaaaain thieeeeves," you get it. We all have brain thieves. (I do not love the screaming. I never do; it's my fault. I accept this.)

But that's all kind of a lie. The best song on the album is the one, the one that got really famous. The sweet little one, "Whole Wide World." That song is in your heart for a reason. It feels like a valentine inside a walnut shell that a little bird-winged fairy brings and leaves for you on the table beside your bed, and it's a message from your future love. But the lyrics aren't romantic at all—he's not singing to you, he's just singing of the frustrations of love and the myth of The One. Then he decides that since he only has one love in all the world, he'd better get traveling. Still, this song is a little treasure meant just for you each time, and I don't care how played out it is.

Wreckless Eric is worth getting to know, even if it isn't your cup of tea (sax punk™ isn't for everyone!). Because Eric is worth getting to know—he's your fearless friend who makes complicated life simple and newly exciting, whispering truth and jokes in your ear all day.

I give this a "go powder your butt" out of 10. recommended