Garage A Trois has finally crumbled under the immense pressure of public demand, and thankfully released its debut studio effort. Titled Emphasizer (Tone Cool Records), the ten-track disc miraculously congregates the myriad of talent, artistry and personality resident in the four co-conspirators that make up the band. Though the live performances of this band are already legendary and continue to break ground every time it assembles, the album, fittingly enough, paints an accurate picture of the energetic foursome that somehow relates the band within the constraints of the studio.
The enigmatic trio of Charlie Hunter, Stanton Moore, and Skerik formed at Lundi Gras in NOLA 1999, later recording Stanton Moore’s All Kooked Out and soon thereafter stealing the show opening for the first ever Oysterhead gig at the State Palace Theatre at JazzFest 2000. After building a buzz and blazing down genres and expectations for three years, the band has released a debut album with official fourth compadre, percussion/vibraphone wizard Mike Dillon, on board.
Emphasizer pronounces the strengths of the band and its elements. Dubbed “retro-lounge cool” and “experimental groove” in the press release, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The record opens with “Hard Headed” showcasing Hunter’s inventiveness, Dillon’s vibe work, and a spooky Skerik. “Sprung Monkey” is vintage Garage A Trois, a NOLA shuffle led by Moore’s no nonsense bottom end. “A Frame” is a P-Funk stomp that adds blaxploitation (dare I say porn!) elements and a distinctly different production value than the other tracks found on this far exploring release.
“Interpretive Ape Dance” might be my favorite track on the album; the cohesion of GAT never sounded so intact and vibrant with the telltale personas of each member shining through, particularly the skronkier side of Skerik. Similar characteristics flow through the crunkafied romp “Delta Skelta,” a ruckus jam that reeks of the French Quarter in early May, complete with rock ‘n’ roll guitar saxophonics and pounding percussion. The fact that this album was recorded in NOLA is certainly not lost on the listener, and the spastic elixir that produces this bad, bad band brews deep down in the Crescent City.
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