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Reviews > CDs

Published: 2006/02/17
by Jesse Jarnow

Holding the Bag – reviews of The Electones, The Kinde Trio, The Marsh, The Parakeets, Secret Saucer

Holding the Bag: February 2006
Aha – The Electones
To paraphrase Cracker’s David Lowery, what the world needs now is another organ trio like I need… well, I guess organ trios are alright. These guys could be out starting gangs or dealing drugs or something. Anyway, the Electones are another organ trio. Mike Bolger is a fine Hammondist, and his left hand is a passable bassist. The trio runs through a range of tempos and rhythms — from the vaguely ska-like ‘The Devil Lies Near’ to guitarist Jason Myers’ busy jazz changes on ‘Close Call.’ The weirdest surprise is Bolger’s ‘Moons Over Zog,’ which drops from a hyper-speed organ tune into a brief vamp before resolving (uncredited) into one of John Williams’ themes for the first Star Wars (from the awards ceremony at the very end following the Battle of Yavin, if you must know). It’s nifty, as is the minimalist jam that follows. True story. As for the rest of Aha, give or take the keys and tempos, many of the tunes seem fairly interchangeable with one another. So it goes. No comparisons necessary: what the world needs now is another organ trio like I need another organ trio. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Spectrum analysis.’ More info…
Grillin – The Kinde Trio
The Kinde Trio is what ya get in a post-Medeski Martin & Wood/Phish-circa-1998 world. Like the Ben Folds Five, their name is a misnomer (they’re a quartet) (har har). Light on original ideas, and heavy on hippie-funk jamming, their songs have just enough changes to make them recognizable, not enough to make them memorable. The seven-and-a-half minute ‘Applesauce’ veers into a long metal-funk improv, replete with dramatic wah chords that likely sound mondo dramatic in the upstate New York bars they call home (and probably sound even cooler with a billowing smoke machine). Despite creative cover art (dude, that dude has a brain-in-a-jar for a head and a burning match for an arm!), a wacky vocal jam in the midst of ’86 Proof,’ and a few samples thrown in for good measure, the Kinde Trio are just a good old-fashioned jamband. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Emphasize repetitions.’ More info…
self-titled – The Marsh
Okay, there’s something totally weird about Noah Pine, the frontman for the Marsh. He sounds like a cross between Axl Rose and, I think, Gene Ween (awesome!): pinched, high-pitched, and… impassioned? What with the recent successes of Devandra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, it might not be a bad strategy. There’s a smart pop sensibility to the Marsh, with the bright Brit-rock piano plods of the opening ‘The Seasons’ (where Pine sounds a bit like Iggy Pop), the disjointed anthemia of ‘Stars and Scars,’ the nimble surreality (and bizarro falsettos) of ‘Beginning to See the Truth,’ and the surprising resolutions of ‘We Said No.’ The Marsh aren’t really a jamband, but they aren’t really anything else, either. Steeped in ’70s balladry without becoming (pardon the pun) bogged down it or making fun of it, the Atlanta-based Marsh are true originals. They will only get better as they learn to focus their idiosyncrasies. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Are there sections? Consider transitions.’ More info…
The Big Purple – The Parakeets
Can we stop with the envelope filters already? The flangers, too? Come to think of it, it might not be a bad idea to ban most effects pedals for a while, especially the wah-wah. (Maybe we can even ban electric guitars, if we’re feeling particularly fascist.) In any event, New Hampshire’s Parakeets aren’t half-bad songwriters. Sticking to the well-loved cars-and-girls formula with numbers like ‘BP Saturday’ and ‘Getting Lost’ — albeit modified for stoners and long organ solos — the ‘keets have a tendency towards tight choruses and surprising bridges. Unfortunately, that surprise is often a heretofore unsuspected variety of flanger breakdown. To be fair, the quintet does employ electronics to some neat ends — there’s a cool drum machine texture on ‘Darkness Lens’ and some random bleeps throughout — but, man, those guitar tones gotta go. On the plus side, the Parakeets don’t need ‘em. Kaw. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Use an unacceptable color.’ More info…
Element 115 – Secret Saucer
Do you like ‘Interstallar Overdrive’ by The Pink Floyd? Of course you do. Would you like to hang in that space for, oh, 70 minutes and 26 seconds? Depending on your disposition, just possibly. Secret Saucer — who appear to be some sort of group of vets of the international space-rock conspiracy — do just that on Element 115. Ambience abets frequently squealy guitar solos (‘Atom Smasher,’ ‘Astral Progeny’) in a manner that recalls British electro-blokes the Ozric Tentacles. In a way, the music on Element 115 is utterly formulaic: it starts and ends in deep space, and a lot of effect pedals are stomped upon along the way. There’s some flanging. If the universe is your bag, Secret Saucer has a mighty big potato sack for you. Oblique Strategies sez: ‘Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify them.’ More info…

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