• Record Label: Merge
  • Release Date: Jan 24, 2006

Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. The words are as bleak as ever, and the songs still cut like coal-black shards of anti-pop bitterness. [Apr 2006, p.204]
  2. A deeply satisfying work of storytelling through pop.... What Are You On? is emotionally complex in a way that few of the more prosperous songwriters of Cornog’s generation are capable of producing at this point in their careers.
  3. This is right up there with his best.
  4. Present are the hints of early Guided by Voices, spotty Who outtakes and country-tinged acoustics that make East River Pipe so beloved, but here these influences tread, weighted, underwater.
  5. Songs of losers and loss tempered by only a taste of wry humor.
  6. 70
    Luckily he counteracts offbeat, sad sucker storytelling with endearing Casio tones and token indie rock chords. [Mar 2006, p.123]
  7. Like every East River Pipe album it’s blemished by imperfections, but Cornog’s lonely, home-recorded drabness goes beyond the "sun, sun, sun" of other retro-oriented musicians to remind us that sunlight reflecting off slabs of urban concrete remains as bleak in 2006 as it was in 1974.
  8. What Are You On? bristles with unchecked bitterness that often curdles into condescension.
  9. There’s little doubt that Cornog is an excellent songwriter, his sense of melody and hook is impeccable, but What Are You On?, despite some fine moments, feels distracted and too brief with 13 songs in just over 35 minutes.
  10. His tried-and-true lo-fi routine is still there, and die-hard Pipe fans will probably gobble up this release, but these thirteen smoggy ballads are like that week-old liter of Grape Fanta: you know, flat.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 6 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. DaveJ
    Feb 26, 2006
    I've followed this guy since his first Sarah Records single, and last night it hit me as I made a comp throwing together some of his I've followed this guy since his first Sarah Records single, and last night it hit me as I made a comp throwing together some of his finest moments from all the releases of the past 15 years (only 6 but I'll take every one of 'em). F.M. is one hell of a buried treasure and we are lucky he survived this harrowing bout with drugs/alcoholism. All this genius coming from a guy who once lived in a train station, not caring if he lived or died. This release is quickly becoming my favorite, and that's saying a lot. I've made literally thousands of comps thru the years and always include at least 1 ERP song. This is about equal to the actual promotion he gets from not touring. Our pop generation's J.D. Salinger deserves a much wider audience, and he's not going to get it working at Home Depot. Full Review »
  2. DougP
    Feb 19, 2006
    Beautiful sadness. Or sad beauty. Hits you in the bottle.
  3. EricR
    Feb 15, 2006
    An underrated gem. I'm new to Cornog