October 18, 2007
Chained To The Chariot
From the start of this album start the influence from 90s alt-rockers Pavement is plainly evident. From lead singer James Marler's deadpan vocals to the off-kilter, swirling textures of guitarist Chris Columbo, to the eccentric, but catchy choruses. For this reason, it is entirely appropriate for their appearance on this years' Voodoo Music Fest lineup which features 90s rock giants The Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against The Machine. However, there is more to this New Orleans band than Pavement comparisions.
Their lo-fi sound combines funky grooves, alt-country, and quirky rhythms a la Odelay-era Beck. The lyrics flow freely between being the quizzical and cebebral. With that, the band has created a unique sound by using the musical textures to blur and bend the lyrics to create a flow of sounds with syllables. For example, "Drink up, drink up the kingpin tin cup/ For a pistol of tricks sir a crystal exlir/ blissful breath from a rock bottom riser" does not make sense literally. However, when its put in context with the music all the words fall together like a row of dominoes, and despite Marler's laid back vocals and sing-a-long choruses, many of his lyrics bear a greater depth than one might first expect. Hurricane Katrina is an obvious influence in songs like "The Big Parade" and "A Feast in Squalor." The addition of horns and keyboards really fill out the sonic landscape on this album, creating a rich and full sound. Although, at times, the horns do make it hard not to conjure Cake caparisons.