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Published: 2002/02/20
by Jesse Jarnow

Holding The Bag: Capsule Reviews- Brothers of Max Catharsis, Colonel Mustard, The Derelict Brew, The Electric Mind Control Workshop, The Electric Starlight Space Animals, Adam Klipple and Drive-By Leslie, Bitches Brew, Tyler Shusterman, West Side Heat

self-titled – Brothers of Max Catharsis The instrumental
music on this album reminds me a little bit of the first Slip shows I saw in
the lounge at Wetlands, before the band went all hippie. The Brothers of Max
Catharsis aren’t as free or as hooked-up or as deeply exploratory, but the
guitar/bass/drums trio’s music similarly explores jazz ideas in an almost
ambient fashion. The music is, above all (and most importantly), tasteful.
Though the song titles ("Mysterium", "Raiden’s Orrery") are occasionally
inflated, the music never is. Nor does any of it feel extraneous. Guitarist
Joe Messer occasionally relies a bit too much on the same arpeggio
techniques to create mood, and drummer Jay Jaskot isn’t quite as sensitive
as he could be, but the Brothers of Max Catharsis succeed in creating a
mood, one that prevails evenly over the course of their CD. The downside is
that it’s a bit hard to differentiate tune from tune, but I suppose that’s
the price. More
info…
self-titled – Colonel Mustard Okay, I’ll cop to picking
up this CD because Colonel Mustard’s got a tune called "Tony’s Song", which
I hopefully mistook for a cover of the Pixies’ "Tony’s Theme". My mistake.
Tony’s actually the bass player for Colonel Mustard, and probably the kind
of guy who should get a song. The five songs on the band’s self-titled
mini-album/EP layer envelope-filtered ’77-era Dead psychedelia on top of the
requisite never-deep-enough grooves. It’s one thing when jambands combine
random genres of music, it’s another when they start combining subgenres of
their own scene. It’s an interesting combination of eras,
and it leads to some interesting jamming, most pleasingly (and surprisingly)
during the aforementioned tune. Like many of their ilk, the band is too
easily excitable, and fall over their own feet as the jams build, but they
really are listening to each other in a good and intuitive way. The songs
themselves require some serious work, and suffer from a lack of depth,
mostly due to a seemingly self-imposed pressure to groove. More info…
Manifestoid – The Derelict Brew
A typical jamband with jazzy leanings, Rochester’s The Derelict Brew rely
mostly on classic rock tendencies to make their sound catchy. While claiming
influences from both Beck and Miles Davis, The Derelict Brew succeed in
sounding very little like either, with the exception of the highly
Beck-derivative folk-rap of "Seven 8 Slut". Though the band is tight and run
through numerous section changes with apparent ease, the writing itself is
uncompelling, breaking down into uninspired funk breaks ("Never Never
Land"), and topped with cloying lyrics ("Everybody Get Down"). Keyboardist
Charles Lindner occasionally uses interestingly vintage tones, but most of
them get lost in the muddied mix. The Brian Wilson-like middle vocal section
(which also recurs at the end) of "Jungle Gym Lion’s Den" is quite lovely,
though is quickly ruined by typical jamband schizophrenia, frantic playing,
and a semi-soaring Allmans-derived guitar part. More info…
self-titled – The Electric Mind Control Workshop On this
album, there is a song titled "Blues For Jabba". That made me laugh pretty
hard, at least hard enough to pick up the disc and get it into my CD player.
Unfortunately, I found myself impatiently waiting for said song if only to
satisfy my curiousity and turn it off. The CD is strung through with some
fairly uninteresting keyboard work that happens to permeate just about every
song. The band’s sound is fairly muddled, with genres (Latin grooves,
fusion, funk) slung casually about. The band never seems to assert itself or
say anything all too new (though their cover of Van Morrison’s "Moondance"
reminded me how much I love the tune). More info…
Greetings From Alpha Cenchila – The Electric Starlight Space
Animals Um. Okay. This album veers from near blues-rock out into the
realms of high weirdness. Delay loops, sound effects, spoken word,
synthesizers, and aural swirls of all varieties make up this 12-track album
of outer space psychedelia. Some of the album is pretty goddamn atrocious
(the forced effects pedal madness of "Moons of Jupiter"), but a lot of it is
pretty interesting, if only because this seems to be very unlikely music.
Things being what they are, what are the odds that somebody – let alone four
somebodies and a few friends – would actually go the trouble of creating
this music? I’m not sure if I mean that as insult, precisely, or high
praise. Either way, I’m confused. I mean, a five-minute spoken word
situation with nice, pretty chimes and an almost Zappa-like voice delivering
a dry monologue about wandering the universe. There are some really cool
blurps in there… but then there’s ghetto-hippie blues-rock of
"Socialworker of Love". Part of me feels like I should listen to this album
for 30-something hours straight until I understand how it came to exist. I’m
not sure if that’s something I need to know, though. More info…
self-titled – Adam Klipple and Drive-By Leslie
Led by the talented keyboardist Adam Klipple – who appears with such groups
as Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe, Defunkt, as well as his own Adam
Klipple Trio – Drive-By Leslie features a quartet of talented jazz-funk
players, which also includes guitarist David Phelps (who has recorded with
Public Enemy), bassist Gregory Jones, and drummer Willard Dyson. The music
is organized around the tightly arranged grooves of Klipple’s charts. Along
with Klipple, guitarist Phelps leads the melodic charge, with his own take
on John Scofield’s patented reverbed guitar sound. It is neither stunningly
original nor boring, somehow managing to elude clichn the process of
sounding like many other jazz-funk units out there. The rhythms are
straight-up funk shuffles, such as the New Orleans-influenced "Zabloom". Of
note, oddly enough, is the Phelps-penned "Wrong Note Tango", which explores
a quiet musical space with a nice precision. The disc closes with a weirdly
unpoppy organ trio-style cover of Prince’s "1999". More info…
Gooey Dewey – Bitches Brew I’m not sure where the hell
these guys get off naming their band "Bitches Brew". Show some respect, man:
Miles. Their Gooey Dewey disc pays tribute to Davis, offering
up interpretations of "Rated X", "Ife", "On The Corner", and other tunes. In
the bargain, they often turn the material into something far less than it
was — which is to say, a lot of this just feels like bland funk. There’s
some cool textural stuff every now and again, but nothing that is really
engaging. Generally, though, is a musician has the audacity to think that he
is good enough to offer entire performances based on Davis’s music,
shouldn’t he be writing his own material? Seriously recommend reading: Bob Moses’s letter to
the Boston Phoenix
. More info…
Look Alive – Tyler Shusterman This kid’s got a good head
on his shoulders. His album is clearly homemade, both in terms of sound
production and packaging (and songwriting, for that matter), but it holds
together quite nicely for what it is. There’s a lot packed into the music,
and it has the kind of intimacy that can only be achieved when one guy plays
most of the instruments. It’s just Shusterman here, along with drummer Paul
Weinberg. There are some good little melodies, and some nice changes.
Shusterman does well to insert interesting turns between verses, though some
songs come out better than others. The lonesome singer-songwritery twists of
"Mike Mussina" are far better than the psuedo-funky rhythms of "A Warm Bowl
of Soup (On A Cold Night)" (an unfortunate choice for an album opener). The
album revels in its youth, and Shusterman takes on structural and melodic
approaches that a more accomplished songwriter would probably rule out on
general principle, such as the faux-middle-eastern sounding (and endearing)
"Susan", or the drop into Tom Waits-like waltz-time at the end of the
one-man jamband jamboree of "The Chosen Ones". More info…
Live Bootleg – West Side Heat
An almost boggling release, West Side Heat’s Live Bootleg captures
the Chicago blues band in action in Fort Wayne, Indiana as they run through
nine songs, six of which are covers. The band’s renditions of the material – which includes "It’s My Soul", The Rolling Stones’ "You Can’t Always Get
What You Want", Bobby Bland’s "Love Light", Jimmy Oden’s "Going Down Slow",
Buddy Holly’s "Not Fade Away", and Jimi Hendrix’s "Voodoo Child" – don’t add
anything particularly new to the songs. In fact, in places, they are
seriously detrimental, as singer Mark Hoekstra endlessly overemotes and
sings any tenderness the songs might have once had into curled submission.
The recording quality is distinctly subpar, instruments blending
uninterestingly into each other with Tim Logan’s bass and Kevin Johnson’s
drums sounding as if they were taped through large, thick towels. The disc
is best exemplified by a lone person attempting to clap along with the
introduction to "You Can’t Always Get What You Want". The clapping is
ridiculously off-time and out of place. If it is a band member, it reveals
the musician’s ineptitude. If it is an audience member, it is one of the
few. West Side Heat is a bar band, and not a very good one at that.

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