Music Reviews

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Artist: Tomahawk (@)
Title: ”Oddfellows”
Format: CD
Label: Ipecac Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
WTF?? Look at this album cover (courtesy of cartoonist Ivan Brunetti) ' does that give you any idea what this latest release by Tomahawk sounds like? Hell no! But it's a hoot anyway. To be perfectly honest, I'd never heard (nor heard of) Tomahawk before this. I've heard of, and heard (a little) of a couple of Mike Patton's other bands ' Mr. Bungle and Faith No More, and can't say I'm a fan of either of them. With no proper basis of comparison, I began listening with more or less virgin ears.

Tomahawk now is Mike Patton- vocals/keys; Duane Denison- guitar; John Stanier- drums; Trevor Dunn ' bass. The latter, from Mr. Bungle, replace founding member Kevin Rutmanis. The guitar on opening and title track 'Oddfellows' sounds like latter-day King Crimson slowed down quite a bit. Patton's sinister wailing reminds me a bit of Swan's Michael Gira. It's a deliciously creepy vibe augmented with some wild-assed soloing by Denison toward the end. Great way to begin. Didn't care much for the next track, 'Stone Letter,' as it sounded like a pretty standard alt-rocker to me, except for the flanged gothy guitar break. 'I.O.U.' raises the bar a bit with its slow and simmering dark tension verse and rising, wailing chorus. Sort of minimalistic but really good! 'White Hats/Black Hat' is an absolutely brilliant rocker; a low-down, dirty, sexy, and dangerous burner, of the ilk I don't hear enough of nowadays. 'A Thousand Eyes' is a spooky little change-up. 'Rise Up Dirty Waters' has a really spiffy detective jazz motif that heats up on the chaotic jumpin' jive chorus. This is the track that really sold me on the album. I'm such a sucker for stuff like this! 'The Quiet Few' is anything but quiet, a real nightmarish raucousness on this one, right up to its manic conclusion. In 'I Can Almost See Them' I can almost see shades of Ennio Morricone. 'South Paw' sounds like one of those rockers that's more effective live than in the studio and reminded me too much of Faith No More. 'Choke Neck' on the other hand is a creepy downtempo number that is typical of what I am coming to expect from Tomahawk. 'Waratorium' sounded like filler, but at least it was well-done filler. 'Baby Let's Play__' is the closest thing to a love ballad on the album, but think of it as a Dexter-serial killer sort of love ballad. Final track 'Typhoon' is an uptempo hell-raiser I could imagine Iggy & the Stooges doing. Too short at 2:12 but always leave 'em wanting more I guess.

I made it a point after I finished this review to search out some of Tomahawk's earlier work and there is no doubt that a good deal of it was a lot more experimental and out there than this album. It's not that they sound like a completely different band (they don't) but they've managed to refine and focus their energy and trim some of the ragged edges. Song construction is generally better too. If you were a big fan of their previous work, you might be disappointed that there aren't extended excursions into weirdsville. However, if you truly appreciate the band's essence, you'll appreciate that 'Oddfellows' is a cohesive work with some absolutely stellar tracks.



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