Five Even – Gongzilla
On an album with such an A-list of guest players Gongzilla’s core members still keep an impressively cohesive overall sound and aesthetic on Five Even. Whether they’re exploring newgrass-fusion territory with moe.’s Chuck Garvey (“French Grass”) or discovering their own heavier, darker side (“Jersey Pines”), there’s a stoned laid-back confidence that is the essence of the Gongzilla sound throughout.
“American Dream” runs from jazz fusion right into rock and roll, allowing guest Jake Cinninger, of Umphrey's McGee, ample room to rip the kind of signature meaty solo that keeps Umph fans coming back. The deep spaced-out jazz fusion ventures of the title track are brought to awesome heights with the help of the fretless wonder duo of David Fiucynski on guitar and Kai Eckhardt on bass. They also lend their talents to the rocking and catchy “When The Water’s Gone,” successfully showcasing the extreme versatility of both themselves and their hosts in just two songs.
Refreshingly, although they touch on a fair amount of go-to social commentary subjects with their lyrics, it never comes across as cheesy or formulated in any way. Gongzilla's real bass heavy, fusion-based sound makes total sense considering their history, but this latest effort branches out in more of an intriguing rock direction as well, especially with the addition of surprisingly good vocals.