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Published: 2003/11/28
by Jesse Jarnow

Holding The Bag – Richard Cholakian/Philip Gayle, The Dukes of Hubbard, Grooveyard, JPT Scare, Nikhil, Motion For Alliance, The Thang, The Uplifters, Ron Yarosz

Hud Pies – Richard Cholakian/Philip Gayle
Yeah, so this one probably kicked around in my box for a few years too long.
But that’s that okay, since it still seems to be the most recent release
offered on Philip Gayle’s website. Either way, Hud Pies is two discs
of adventurous improvisation from guitarist Gayle and percussionist
Cholakian — and by "adventurous," of course, I mean "difficult" and
"atonal." The three pieces, including the nearly 78 minute "OK" (a bit on
disc one, a bit on disc two) move through a variety of difficult modes.
Gayle’s guitar playing, mostly acoustic, revels in the same prepared
qualities as Dr. Eugene Chadbourne — scratchily dissonant and driven by the
urge to pull sounds from his instrument not achievable by a mere pick ‘n’
strum. Likewise, Cholakian’s kit playing is supportive and equally as
chaotic (though not as varied as Gayle’s). It’s not easy music to parse, and
certainly not easy music to relax to, but it’s definitely the kinda stuff
that one can get lost in for days at a time. Oblique Strategies sez:
"Repetition is a form of change." More

Planet Reid – The Dukes of Hubbard
Minnesota, huh? Like The Big Wu, The Dukes of Hubbard deliver with right
pleasant, entirely mellow jamband sound. Their songs admit just enough of
other genres into a basic hippie-country tapestry to keep things fresh — a
bit of reggae here ("Farmer Song"), a bit of samba there ("Tommy and the
Bear"). The production is a little bit muddled, though it is muddled in a
warm way — as if it hangs in the thick air of a house heated by an old,
creaky radiator as wet blobs of snow fall in blanket on the driveway outside
the living room window. Guitarists Ben Wizik and Jim Cooper fall together
with an easy syncopation. There’s nothing too extreme about their music.
Even when peaking in a wah frenzy, there is still something fundamentally
chilled about the band. It’s as if somebody dropped a jamband plug-in into
the ProTools file, filtering everything through a haze. Nothing offensive,
but nothing provocative, either. Oblique Strategies sez: "Discover every
recipe you are using and abandon them." More info…

Jenn’ll Tell Ya – Grooveyard
For some reason – and I might be totally wrong on this – it seems
like ska, or at least its rhythmic influence, is undergoing a bit of a
resurgence. The upbeat rhythms and bright horns seem to be finding their way
back to the forefront on a number of smaller jamband releases, sneaking
through the backdoor of soul-funk and gradually inching towards the
spotlight. Grooveyard’s trio of wind players seems determined on this front,
delivering punchy horn bursts on songs like "This Time." Of course, per the
tenets of soul-funkism, there are still ample wah-wah pedals, wailing
vocals, and smooth basslines. There are some interesting arrangements, such
as the flamenco-influenced "Blues For David," and Jenn Dashney’s vocals soar
throughout, but there’s not too much that’s horribly compelling about
Grooveyard. So it goes. Oblique Strategies sez: "Not building a wall but
making a brick." More info…P>

Past is Prologue – JPT Scare Band
This CD was released in 2001, but I guess it doesn’t matter than it’s taken
me so long to get to it, seeing as how the bulk of it was recorded during
the relatively unknown JPT Scare Band’s (relative) heyday in the mid-1970s.
A forgotten band? Or just one never discovered to begin with? Either way,
the music on Past Is Prologue, which leads off with some more
recently recorded tracks, is traditional American stoner music, ripped out
in garages and basements and rec rooms and house parties since times
forgotten (or, at least, the mid-1960s). Of the stuff on Past in
Prologue, the material from the ’70s is clearly the strongest, though
even that is a bit generic. Screaming hard blues in the tradition of
Zeppelin, the band does manage to get some niftily psychedelic playing outta
their fingers that’s maybe more compelling than it is original. Whoever’s
playing lead guitar can certainly shred, and that’s kinda fun — pure
basement arena rock with an innocence now impossible. Oblique Strategies
sez: "Look at the order in which you do things." More info…

self-titled – Nikhil
For a seven piece band, Nikhil shows an artful amount of restraint. In fact,
this is the most intriguing thing about them – they’ve got two saxophonists,
two guitarists, a bassist, a percussionist, and a drummer – yet they usually
sound like about half of that. They have a very good sense of when to employ
the various instruments and, when they do, it is usually quite subtly
dramatic. Unfortunately, the end that they employ these arrangements to
simply ain’t that interesting. Frontman Nikhil Korula turns in the usual
singer-songwriter-adapted-to-full-(though-mellow)-rock-band variety o’ tunes
with titles like "When I Look In Her Eyes" and lyrics like "If I could live
forever / Would you be there by my side?" while being flanked my lite
saxophones. There isn’t enough personality to fill a star cruiser or, sadly,
even an SUV. Oblique Strategies sez: "Tidy up." More info…

43rd Street Sessions, volume 1 – Motion For Alliance
It’s always fairly optimistic of bands to append "Volume 1" to the titles of
their releases (see The Thang’s Groovejazz, volume 1, below). At any
rate, Boulder’s Motion For Alliance are one o’ them hippie electronic
outfits, brimming with an almost drum-n-bassy sound and bolstered by
samples. The music is creative but, sadly, sometimes lacks the
transportational qualities that the animal samples on tracks like "Ancestor"
seem to want to create. They’re still a live band, and seem stuck between
wanting to sound antiseptically electronic (like The New Deal) and
organically alive (like Sector 9) so, instead, find themselves hovering in a
no man’s land in between. Live, the beats surely translate to frenzied
flurries. Here, one listens for signs of intense communication between the
musicians and has a hard time finding them. They make much about their use
of technology, though that doesn’t seem to translate to much more than some
more effects pedals and keyboards, instead of forcing them to rethink the
way music is made. Oblique Strategies sez: "You are an engineer." More info…
Groovejazz, volume 1 – The Thang
Volume one, eh? Well, at any rate, The Thang’s website seems to have
disappeared (or, at least, it’s not registering on my browser) — another
404 band. The music disappears down the rabbit hole of the early 21st
century, too, generic jam-funk. As usual with a band that’s disappeared,
there’s something sorta sad about listening to the disc knowing that the
band has broken up (or at least inferring it based on a dead website) — in
fact, it invests the disc with a greater emotional content than it might
have otherwise. Track titles like "Bomb Jazz," "Mr. Sneer," and "The
Feelin’" are laced with braggart, and it’s weird to think of that swagger
subsumed by adulthood and whatever else the band members have gone on to do
since then. Even if it’s not a stellar outing, just the fact that four guys
got together to make an album is filled with promise and potential. Now
disintegrated, it’s curious to imagine how that past decayed into the real
world, musicians trickling out to get real jobs, new lives. Oblique
Strategies sez: "Trust in the you of now."

Burning Bush – The Uplifters
"The Uplifters’ lyrics… REFLECT A COMMON GOAL," their website reads. "The
REVOLUTION is waiting for a unified people. Believing is just the first
step," it goes on. Elsewhere, though, it informs any stray cyberdenizen that
might stumble upon it that, sadly, the Uplifters disbanded in the summer of
2003, though adds optimistically that the site will continue to be updated
with sound and video. Just as there’s something blindingly idealistic about
a band that might set such goals, there’s something equally as depressing
when that group disintegrates. The music is fairly well-done reggae. The
group gets the riddim down, and grooves together pleasantly enough. The
revolutionary content isn’t huge, or at least enough to get me outta my
chair and rioting (which is maybe the intent?) On "Waves With Bias," the
horns and guitar synch up in a meditative groove while the drums fly away in
an echo-dubbed haze. The music is all very sad, a document of a failed
revolution. Oblique Strategies sez: "Courage!" More info…

The Vehicle – Ron Yarosz
Ah, well, this seems to be the month of dead websites. "Warning,"
Yarosz’s site read when I got it. "mysql_select_db(): supplied argument is
not a valid MySQL-Link resource in
/home/yarosz/public_html/config.php on line 28 Failed: Access
denied for user: ‘’ (Using password: YES)." Quite a
technical message for the website of a decidedly roots-rock musician whose
music seems to take its thrills in down-home authenticity or some variation
thereof. Yarosz is a more than competent harmonica player, in the spirit of
old-school John Popper, but unfortunately doesn’t have an iota of the Blues
Traveler frontman’s wit. The Vehicle is filled with urban blues
punctuated by occasional keyboards, though the website’s broken code is more
bittersweet than any of Yarosz’s bluesy utterances. Oblique Strategies sez:
"Just carry on." More info…

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