THE BRIDGE : : CROSS STREET MARKET (2004)

In the simplistic, deterministic view of the world, there are two sides to everything, a heads and a tails. Take the new album by The Bridge, for example. Now those getting "heads" listen to this album and hear a brilliant studio/live mixer featuring a worthwhile would-be player in the jam scene. Those getting "tails"... [yawn]. "Heads" see a cross-cutting genre teaser mixing funk, rock, bluegrass and hip-hop with guitars, banjos, saxophones, drums, dobros and so on to booty-shaking effect. Those getting "tails"... [yawn]. Oh, sorry, please excuse me. I'm sure there are plenty of people who see Washington's mug when the quarter lands in their palm, maybe even half, but every time I flip over The Bridge's Cross Street Market, I keep coming up with... [yaaaaaaawn].

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the whole shebang is the human beatbox thingamajig that pops up on more than one occasion (!), so let's start there. I remember enjoying that when my suite-mate did that in the dorms in college, it sounds like it's a helluva lotta fun in the live show, I just can't imagine anyone wanting to sit at home and listen to this hip-hop bastardization on CD. But like the symbolic coin that has two sides, so does the beatbox issue. While it seems a bit out of place, Kenny Liner (mandolin, beat-box) recently competed in New York at the International beatbox symposium and has gained credit in that scene for his work. Adidas even signed him to a sponsorship deal and he is flying over to Germany in 2005 to compete in another international beatbox competition. So while it may not sit with me, maybe it will for you. OK, had to get that off my chest. The rest of the album is passable, but just doesn't push my buttons the way it feels like it should. Yeah, it's great to dabble in lots of different musical realms, but all these attempts feel half-baked. It's like a paint-by-numbers jamband – at first glance it looks like it could be a really great piece of art, but then you get closer and you can actually see the numbers underneath. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing bad about this album or the music contained within... it's the kind of album that if someone played it for you with a "my cousin/brother/best friend is in this band" you'd certainly be impressed. Beyond that... [zzzzzz].

Aaron Stein
JamBase | New York
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[Published on: 12/1/04]

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