Capsule Wednesday 7

By: JamBase Staff

Sunset Rubdown: Random Spirit Lover (Jagjaguwar)
Yes, this is another Jagjaguwar release that is from, you guessed it, a Canadian band with members from Wolf Parade (singer Spencer Krug). That's not a bad thing but Random Split Lover seems to ape too much of the jittery, caffeinated, baroque psychedelics from the member's previous endeavors in the past year as part of Swan Lake and Frog Eyes. Random Split Lover bounces off the walls for the most part but one of its flaws remains its length, which leave some love handles of fat that desperately need trimming. The swirling arrays of nervousness in Krug's voice are interesting just to hear how many modes that one singer can be on edge with. So, if you've never heard Sunset Rubdown before give this a try, but if you're all too familiar with their member's associated projects this will seem like a giant rehash. (Chris Pacifico)

Ekoostik Hookah: Under Full Sail: It All Comes Together (Ekoostik Productions)
Pushing hard since 1991, Ohio's Hookah is one of the rare proto jam bands to survive into the 21st Century, outliving peers like God Street Wine in large part due an unwavering work ethic and a classic rock knack that's not to be underestimated. Their noodling – and rest assured there's plenty of it – recalls the Marshall Tucker Band or Boston far more than Phish. Their first album since 2002's Ohio Grown is a sprawling double disc set, with the first covering new studio material and the second a live-in-the-studio reworking of their 1991 release Under Full Sail. Melodically and technically, Hookah is a descendent of bands like Steely Dan and The Crusaders, or of more recent vintage, The Decemberists – wide eyed and archetypically hippie in a very positive way but possessed of the sophistication of serious musicians. Moments have the pomp of Kansas or less appealingly Dan Fogelberg ("Water Bear") but the abundance of Guitar Hero moments rivals moe. or their aforementioned rock ancestors. While maybe a bit too rambling, too eager to explore different textures, this pair of CDs goes some way to explaining how they manage to host two festivals a year where the likes of Ratdog and Spearhead are content to play second fiddle. Ekoostik Hookah is very good at what they do and this is a very good example of their thing in action. (Dennis Cook)

Underground Orchestra : Active Ingredient (Wyman)
This full-length debut from SoCal jazz-fusion rockers Underground Orchestra is packed with a mix of rock, funk and jazz with a hint of mandolin for added measure. However, the disc centers around the fluid guitar playing of frontman Sam Feldman. Opening track, "13," is anything but unlucky with soaring guitar on top of thick, rhythmic keyboard, and "Dahab" follows in much the same manner. "Swirl" changes the pace up, getting poppy then groovy and then poppy again, with mandolin sharing the lead with bouncy, upbeat piano. "You Too" is more straight-ahead jazz, while "Raw Feelin,'" with its scorching, ear bleeding electric guitar delves into prog rock. Most of the tracks here leave room for live improvisation, begging for the opportunity to see and hear this band live. Recommended for fans of Zero and Weather Report. (Bill Clifford)

The Brunettes: Structure and Cosmetics (Sub Pop)
Having previously opened for The Shins, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Postal Service, The Brunettes - comprised of New Zealand natives Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield - almost sound like a mini-fusion of the three, with a little bit of The Brady Bunch's excitedly poppy flair thrown in the mix. Structure and Cosmetics is all over the place in terms of genre, with various songs covering completely different musical concepts. "Stereo (Mono Mono)" feels a little Sesame Street, while "Her Hairagami Set" is all Imogen Heap. The extra-terrestrial love affair of "If You Were Alien" is the album's adorable standout, serving as a perfect summation of The Brunette's quirky pop stylings and unobtrusive vocals. Mansfield's voice is cutesy and high-pitched, while Bree's wailing vibrato resembles that of a high school production of Les Miserables. A few of the tracks may be hit or miss, but it easily redeems itself. After all, it's not too often that you get a child-like sing-a-longs and a mix-tape staples on the same disc. (Carlye Wisel)

Li'l Capn' Travis: Twilight on Sometimes Island (Glurp)
With pop music, recognition is everything. A great songwriter is one who gives you something not too dissimilar from what you've heard before but with a stamp that renders it inexorably new. Li'l Capn' Travis gives us everything from Of Montreal to Jimmy Buffett, and then a little more. With a voice like Jeff Tweedy and guitar work ranging from the Allman Brothers to Weezer, the disc is cohesive but keeps you guessing. Come for the cleverly blunt lyricism (a la the Hold Steady), stay for the reverb-drenched Hawaiian sunset. (Josh Potter)

G. Love & Special Sauce: A Year and a Night with... (Brushfire)
The trio of Garret Dutton (aka G. Love) (vocals, guitars, harmonica), Jeff "Houseman" Clemmons (drums, vocals) and Jim "Jimi Jazz" Prescott (bass) have been writing, recording and performing music together for 13 years. Early in '06, keyboardist Mark Boyce blended into the Sauce. A Year and a Night with G. Love and Special Sauce, a DVD and live CD combo, chronicles a year on tour with the quartet including one night in its adopted hometown of Philadelphia. More of a rock-u-mentary than a concert feature, the DVD reveals the love/hate relationship among band members. In several segments, both Clemmons and Prescott argue - foul language and all - with Love about his desire to not have the band walk on stage with drinks in their hands, and then turn and slyly mock him on camera behind his back. However, onstage their chemistry and musical bond shines through. Bonus DVD footage includes live video from a show at the Electric Factory, also the source of the live audio CD. Special guests abound, including "Beautiful," a duet with SoCal salty dog Tristan Prettyman. A year and a night is all it took to get this fan hooked again on the Special Sauce. Awe yea, it's that easy. (BC)

Antigama: Resonance (Relapse)
With their Relapse debut, Warsaw's Antigama brings a new strand of avant-garde metal to America. It's a ferocious blend of industrial grindcore with the gust of a cold breeze, due in large part to the drumming of Krzysztof Bentkowski, who is able to move his sticks with the modulation of a hedge trimmer being taken to the toms and Edward Scissorhands' pruning shears rapidly snipping into the snare. The songs move with shredding akimbo speed as typhoon voiced Lukasz Myszkowski aligns with barnacle adherence to Sebastian Rokicki's hissing drill bit guitar riffs. Just when you think it's all bedlam, "Barbapapex" sneaks in with a tropical Hawaiian boss nova groove that's peppy and mucky all at once - just one of the many tripwires waiting to be discovered in this angular maze of chaos. (CP)

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[Published on: 10/10/07]

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