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Published: 2005/09/08
by Jesse Jarnow

Holding the Bag – Aphrodesia, Brain Buckit, Crafty Foxes, The Fabulous Leapfrogs, Jiva Train, Slap, The Super Soaker Quintet, Ten Foot Tall, The Mike Tichy Disaster

HOLDING THE BAG: September 2005
Front Lines – Aphrodesia
With pulsing hornlines, nearly 20 people credited to their album, syncopated grooves, and a picture of the band playing live fronted by scantily clad girls in American flag underwear (to be fair, all the dudes are scantily clad, too), Aphrodesia pretty clearly seem to be selling themselves as a more frat-ready answer to Fela Kuti. They don’t groove nearly as hard as Fela (though that’s excusable) or even Antibalas, the current holders of the American Afrobeat crown (who are also some mean motherfuckers). Incorporating ska ("We Never Sleep") and hippie funk ("Trouble") into the mix, Front Lines domesticates Afrobeat’s police-raided soirees into beer-soaked Friday night parties. I like parties. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Listen to the quiet voice.’ More info…
self-titled – Brain Buckit
Brain Buckit’s self-titled debut has nothing to do with Les Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains outfit, nor even freak-jazz at all. In fact, this Brain Buckit seems to have spent an awful lot of time listening to moe.‘s ‘New York City,’ or other tightly arranged slabs of hippie pop. Though there is little jamming on the self-titled disc (most tracks hover around the five minute mark), Brain Buckit is a jamband through-and-through, filled with quasi-funky guitars, horn lines, snapping beats, and (most significantly) pure playfulness. There is no angst here. Far from it. Beginning with an upbeat number titled ‘Passion Fruit (Go Bananas!)’, proceeding through a few semi-cinematic instrumentals (including ‘Run Rabbit/The Chase’ and ‘Baja Taxi’), a cover of Hendrix’s ‘Cross Town Traffic’ (is that really necessary, fellas?), and an as-it-sounds closer called ‘Let the Boogie Loose,’ Brain Buckit is an 88-mph DeLorean ride to the Great Northeast Jam Scare of ’95. Given access to a flux capacitor, that’s not the first place I’d travel, but not an entirely bad destination either. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency.’ More info…
Almond Daze – Crafty Foxes
Crafty Foxes is the self-described folk-pop project of Bay Area upright bassist/songwriter Sam Bevan, who — for Almond Daze — recruits marquee name help from the likes of David Grisman and Dawg associate Joe Craven (on whose Django Latino Bevan appears). Bevan’s songs are breathy and autumnal, bordering on the interesting side of adult-contemporary. On typical numbers like ‘Lily’ and the title cut, the outfit’s pastoral chamber approach (as opposed to, say, strumming and singing or pickin’ real fast) serves them well, Mary Pitchford’s fiddle lending the band a crisp, gothic air. The quartet is ultra-tasteful throughout, even Andy Korn who manages the rare feat of being an unobtrusive percussionist in an acoustic band (especially on the traditional ‘Darling Corey’). Bevan’s vocals are occasionally a little overwrought, but they’re easy to forgive in such a well-conceived environment. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Use an unacceptable color.’ More info…
Cassalong Hoppity – The Fabulous Leapfrogs
One gets the sense that the Fabulous Leapfrogs have been through several incarnations since their founding six years ago at a Virginia middle school. Now college age, the Leapfrogs seem to have evolved from Dave Matthews’-like lite-folk to something resembling hip-hop to swinging Hank Williams-inspired country, while retaining trace elements of each. As such, each of Cassalong Hoppity’s 13 tracks is nominally a C & W tune, with occasional rapped breakdowns (‘Delicate Handle’) and cheesy sax parts (‘Fighting the Storm’) thrown in for good measure. Songwriter Ben Ingus gets in a few good ballads (‘Daffodil Waltz,’ ‘Saloon’), but his rhythm section is too niminy-piminy to handle faster fare like ‘Shaking In Your Boots.’ Maybe next year. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘What are the sections sections of? Imagine a caterpillar moving.’ More info…
Trance Castle – Jiva Train
Jiva Train is the product of lead guitarist Satyen Thaker. There is no shortage of his instrument on Trance Castle. The moment of being on nearly every track (as it were) is a squealing Robert Fripp-by-way-of-Trey Anastasio solo from Thaker. Occasionally, Thaker breaches the psychedelic (‘Clay Figures’), but just as often finds himself writing the kinds of silly funk-pop that jambands should’ve abandoned years ago (‘Dixie Trixie’). The 10-minute disc-closing ‘Clowns’ isn’t a bad approximation of Junta-era Anastasio’s soaring pans over the Vermont countryside, and must be as fun to perform as it was to write, but (on disc, anyway), it’s a little unsatisfying to the listener. It’s also a great ride. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Left channel, right channel, center channel.’ More info…
Tips and Clicks – Slap
Though it begins as another groove-jazz lite assault, Slap’s Tips and Clicks quickly melts into an all-out hippie-ambient jamfest. This is for the better. While the heads of their songs are often too non-descript for comfort, the quartet is more than comfortable when they sail into the unknown. On ‘A Musto el Burrato,’ Mark Miklos’s keyboards glide upwards while guitarist Tom Zubal trills patiently. The formula is basically the same throughout the 10-track, one-hour disc. While the music isn’t always actively engaging, it’s certainly enjoyable, and blends together into an entertaining listen. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Question the heroic approach.’ More info…
Whooey – The Super Soaker Quintet
According to a note in the Super Soaker Quintet’s debut, Whooey, most of its music was recorded in bassist Ty Russell’s parents’ split-level house in a housing development in suburban Georgia, with the band spread out across the clean carpeting. It sounds it, too. Guitarist Jim Kenkin’s funk-oriented songs — including ‘Scrabble Date,’ ‘Ceiling Fan,’ ‘Book You Didn’t Read’ — are the type of rock one would imagine hearing a band practice in the distance at a patio party in a faceless neighborhood while Dad serves up some chemically perfect burger patties with store-brand soda. Like the soda, Whooey is sugary, but indistinct. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Give the name away.’ More info…
self-titled – Ten Foot Tall
Whether or not the "Dickey" of Ten Foot Tall’s "Dickey’s Lament" refers to the deposed Allman Brothers guitarist is probably not up for questioning, unless it just happens to be a big coincidence that the New Jersey quintet wrote an Allmans-like instrumental and named it that. Anyway, Ten Foot Tall didn’t really need to proclaim their allegiance to Mr. Betts, since the majority of their six-song/half-hour mini-album/EP is cut from patterns created by the Allmans, Santana, and other mainstays of psychedelic groove rock. Half-recorded by former Spin Doctors/current Amfibian guitarist Anthony Krizan in town called "Ringoes" (more than one Ringo! hooray!), Ten Foot Tall is crisp and professional sounding, if a Jersey mile far from original. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate.’ More info…
When the Sun Went Down – the Mike Tichy Disaster
The Mike Tichy Disaster are probably hometown heroes somewhere in New Jersey. Their choruses are suitably anthemic, their textured acoustics and wildly bent electrics perfectly (and implacably) retro. It’s good old rock and roll, the kind spontaneously reinvented by kids every time they pick up guitars and drums and whatnot. When the Sun Went Down is a smartly recorded debut, scanning easily into whatever situation it might arrive at, but rarely staking its own ground. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Get your neck massaged.’ More info…

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