Capsule Wednesday: 2

By: Dennis Cook

The Heavy Pets: Whale (self-released)
The Pets just might be a perfect jamband. Given nearly a quarter century of Phish, 17 years of moe.and myriad now forgotten fellow travelers like God Street Wine, one would expect younger musicians to adopt their ancestor's expansive, genre twisting moves but few do so quite as naturally as The Heavy Pets. First off, nice big balls to release a 2-CD, 20 track behemoth as their debut. Second, it's all pretty good – really enjoyable swayers custom made for live extension, and varied enough to suggest several solid songwriters in their midst. The production and arrangements are full of nice touches like the winged violin that flies in from nowhere on "Pleasure Tank." Nothing directly references the jam forefathers but it's impossible to imagine this band happening without H.O.R.D.E. and digital show trading. What sets the Pets apart is a soft spot for island grooves (more Weather Report and Sublime than icky O.A.R.) and a sweet tooth for classic rock that alternately adds he-man crunch or the shuffling swellness of early Little Feat to their gently meandering sojourns. Working hard to become a national touring concern, Florida's The Heavy Pets have a great deal of quality raw material and no little amount of heart. Methinks their future is bright if anyone is listening.

Andre Williams: Movin' On With… (Vampisoul)
There's a seamy underbelly to pop music from the '50s & '60s, big bad wolves lurking amongst the sunshine and lollipops. Williams' teeth are sharp 'n' nasty on this set of "greasy & explicit soul movers." Ranging from 1956-1970, this 28-track rump shaker evokes the nasty ghosts of Ike Turner, Little Richard and Screamin' Jay Hawkins as Williams warns us about jail bait and chicken thighs while smacking the groove until it howls. Even the instrumentals feel dirty! Give this and a pair of shiny go-go boots to your favorite honey child and see what happens.

Corey Harris: Zion Crossroads (Telarc)
Always a style explorer, Harris turns his eye towards Jamaica and comes up with something Island Records might have put out in the '70s. Always interested in finding connections between American and African music, Harris continues to tug at his bluesman label, finding his Steel Pulse on these swipes at heathen Babylon. Like the artists he's clearly inspired by (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear) many cuts are a strange combination of sugary melodies and hardcore politics. There's no doubting Harris' sincerity and if the music is bit rote it's also not unpleasant as global political harangues go.

Robbers On High Street: Grand Animals (New Line)
This is a meat pie stuffed with minced Squeeze and prime Elvis Costello and the Attractions, baked crisp and served piping hot by Belle & Sebastian. Despite hailing from NYC, Robbers are so bloody anglophile the disc should come with chips and overcooked peas. That said, it's a damn tasty concoction that darts with a cleverness that eludes most aspirants to these pop heights. An endearing '80s white funk swagger crops up a few times, adding spice to the sweeping arrangements. Fast or slow, they know a hook and bait it with cerebral chestnuts worthy of their ingredients.

Death Ships: Seeds Of Devastation (Faithful Anchor)
There's something afoot in this bucolic jangle, something smart and sweet that eagerly makes you an offer you can't refuse. Like a slightly stoned dB's or a kissin' cousin to Midlake and Band of Horses, Death Ships roll one fine number after another, renewing our faith in exuberant boys with guitars and their ability to make us shrug our shoulders in time to their warmly melancholy musings. Nothing like the plague vessel their name implies, Death Ships sculpt mysterious echoes into an ear-tugging fog that happily envelops the listener.

Rasputina: Oh Perilous World (Filthy Bonnet Co.)
This emerges from slurred dulcimer, humming cello and shambling percussion into "1816. The Year Without A Summer." Rasputina's sixth album lodges the intrinsically offbeat trio well left-of-center but they inhabit that spot with a naturalism that normalizes the unorthodox instrumentation and precipitous shifts in mood. "Choose Me For A Champion" incongruously evokes both Queen and Patti Smith, but "Cage in a Cave" chirps like Scandinavian radio fare, bright skipping in service of a dark rumination. In the past, Rasputina's eccentricities may have kept less adventurous listeners at bay but Oh Perilous World is perversely catchy, balancing the stormy bits with the pastoral ones in a pretty winning way.

JamBase | On The Edge
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[Published on: 8/22/07]

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Comments

MaseBase starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/22/2007 10:45PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MaseBase

Man I love these multi-album reviews! Nice work Dennis...

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/23/2007 09:44AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

I am intrigued with the Heavy Pets now, after reading this review. I love Corey Harris, a true legend.
Nice work Dennis. peace.

agreencinci Thu 8/23/2007 10:52AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I absolutely love this guys!! Saw them in Miami in the spring and was floored. Whale has been my summer anthem!!! Skipped Ratdog to see them at 10klf and was just soo happy! Wish they would come to Ohio. Best of Luck boys. I will continue to tell everyone about the Heavy Pets.

ganjjjj Fri 8/24/2007 12:15PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

ganjjjj

Yessssss, props to jambase for putting an unsigned band on the top of this page. The Heavy Pets definitely deserve some more exposure, their first record/demo, Eat A Brick, was awesome. I'm actually having a hard time finding a place to buy Whale in it's entirety, it looks like iTunes only carries the first half of it.... From what I've heard of Whale I can see why you would say they sound more like Sublime than an average jamband, but their jams do get very Phishlike at times and whoever is playing lead for them certainly has been practicing. They definitely find an eclectic fusion style that draws from quite a few sources, some more subtle than others. Head over to their site, looks like it hasn't been updated in a while but it has some great live recordings and a few tracks from Eat a Brick in the "media" section. And of course head over to etree or archive.org for more live recordings.

phishphreak2009 Sun 8/26/2007 11:15AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

phishphreak2009

Ganjjjj you can get the heavy pets album 2 disc for 12 bucks here http://theheavypets.com/thepetShop/

Ever since seeing the Heavy Pets at Langerado this year I have listening to every recording I can possibly find of them. They are all very talented musicians who deserve more attention. Thanks for reviewing the Heavy Pets. I am glad to see that several of you feel the same way about them.

J starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/29/2007 06:44PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

J

w/o using excessive profanity...HOLY F*@&!! what a review for the pets! I couldn't agree more - in fact, did I just say that...can you hear me? big ups to the 'base for digging a little deeper to find this band on the rise - way to go fellas!

Bowman starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/31/2007 05:58AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Bowman

The Heavy Pets won me over at Langerado this year and after acquiring the album 3 months ago it has barely left my stereo. Great song writing and licks on every track. Operation of Flight is my sh|t.

STEG187 starstarstarstar Tue 9/11/2007 08:43PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

STEG187

The Heavy Pets are great. Lloyd Gigs and Jim on the keys make that band.

peep Jim's solo album if you can find it. NIce jazzy grooves on the Hammond.