ess em 53
1. Sick Young Man
2. Smokin' Joe
3. Not Alone
4. Back Porch Door
6. No Way Homw
7. War Machine
8. Landing Gear
9. Don't Try Me
10. Since the Day That I Met You...
All lyrics by Joe Boylan. Except "No Way Home" by Joe Boylan and Walt Mamaluy
All music composed and arranged by Boylan/DeJesus/Mamaluy/Vasudevan/Wright
Copyright 2011 Neither Tenzing Norgay Music
Dedicated with love to Brian Dennehy.
Jimmy Dugan's Review:
Sick Young Man – Nice Lead Guitar, wish it were longer, deep lyrics
Smokin’ Joe – Rocky Who? Great Sports song. Nice ending
Not Alone – Eddie Vedder would be proud. Nice harmonies.
Back Porch Door – hoe down. Loved it. Country music on steroids.
Lunare – “Lovely Rita” feel first few bars; needs work. Nice guitar work; ended too quickly
No Way Home – ?
War Machine – Sounds like a 7 man Ray Davies; Great song; Pure Vengeance
Landing Gear – Love the lead guitar, keep on drumming; best jam song on the record
Don’t Try Me – Cards anyone? I give it three aces.
Since the Day that I Met You – Nice ending; pretty song.
This is a great record. Very talented band; Guitar work is first class. Drumming was quality. Lyrics are not just filler but really good story telling. I love the singing. Very unique, very talented band, I’d love to see live.
Studio Dongo's Review:
I'll be spending next weekend at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, where I'll enjoy three evenings of performances by the likes of Pearl Jam, Outkast, Beck, Skrillex, Lorde, and Eminem. Those are the headliners, and it will be fun to see them in the live music capital of the world (which is what Austin is, as anyone who has seen the signs in the airport can tell you). But the forgotten part of ACL is the afternoons, which is when you get to watch bands that might be headliners ten years from now . . . or broken up in complete obscurity next week. It's too bad The Disgruntled Sherpa Project won't be one of those afternoon bands--because ACL could use them.
I'll make you a bet. Find me at ACL between 2 and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. If it takes me more than 5 minutes to escort you to a stage featuring a band that lives up to its billing as indie/garage rock by playing songs that sound like watered-down covers of the Talking Heads, then I will buy you a beer. Let's be clear. I love the Heads; I think David Byrne is a musical genius. But that doesn't mean I need a whole generation of Byrne-wannabes running around trying to write the "I Zimbra" of the 21st century. The Disgruntled Sherpa Project does a fantastic job of reminding listeners that the garage built by rock-and-roll is roomy enough to house more bands than Byrne's.
On their latest disc, ess em 53, Sherpa explores the corners and closets of a structure so large and sprawling that it might be best to call them the masters of "airplane hangar rock." The disc opens with "Sick Young Man," which takes us to a sonic landscape that might have existed if grunge had ever attempted to re-invent King Crimson. And that's just the first stop on a journey rich in distinctive (some might even say "mutually exclusive") textures and flavors.
As we move from track 1 to track 2, we have to wonder how we went from thinking Frippertronics might be just around the next corner to a bluesy rock number ("Smokin' Joe") so Doors-y in its driving quality that it might as well ask us to keep our eyes on the road and our hands upon the wheel. But just as we start getting comfortable in 1970, we move both forward and backward in time. The first half of track 3 "Not Alone" is reminiscent of the clean/powerful rock produced by Weezer in the early 2000s. But then the song goes all ethereal and melodic for a break that might have come from the Zombies or the Guess Who in the late '60s. Are you dizzy yet? You will be after getting sucked into track 4, which is some kind of folksy blue grass comedy number. "Back Porch Door" features a harmonica that's better than anything Bob Dylan ever came up with and vocals that sound like Dylan trying to impersonate an angry Woody Guthrie. I won't blame you for skipping track 5 ("Lunare"), which clearly calls for stronger vocals than Sherpa can supply. Maybe that's some kind of retrospective commentary on Dylan.
The same vocal limitations show up in track 6 ("No Way Home"), but the instrumentation is dense and complicated enough to keep the listener's attention. Sherpa follows up the vocal nadir of the disc (tracks 5 & 6) with "War Machine." This is a stunning transition because instrumentation suddenly takes a distant backseat to an infectiously catchy lyrical melody. The singing is mostly quiet but monomaniacal, and the drums (particularly the throbbing toms) work beautifully as a menacing atmospheric counterpart in a song that deserves more attention than it calls to itself.
After "War Machine," ess em 53 goes back to the rocking quality of its opening tracks with "Landing Gear," which I point to as exactly the kind of garage rock that no one would associate with the Talking Heads (all the way down to the overlong, slightly sloppy, but nevertheless rocking drum solo). As the singer repeats "I lost my landing gear" with frenzied guitar licks exploding in the background, there can be no mistake that this is straight-ahead rock and roll in the raunchy, energized tradition of every band that ever got caught up in its own sonic onslaught (from MC5 to the Black Crowes). So where does Sherpa end up after mashing up the sounds of late '60s pop with post-grunge metal and everything in between? They seem to find their way to a sound that might be called their own in track 9 ("Don't Try Me"). The guitar work is as complex and interesting as elsewhere on the disc, but it's cleaned up around the edges to showcase some compelling vocal arrangements. The backup vocals are especially well done (and seamlessly integrated) on this track. But don't worry. The disc doesn't end with anything so pompous as an anthem of self-discovery.
It moves from "Don't Try Me" to "Since the Day That I Met You," which is so relaxed and at ease with itself that it doesn't even have to smile at the mention of "vegetables" and "flossing." It's like a free syringe of heroin at the end of the disc that lets you bob your head and drift into the land of the lotus eaters. I'll be eating some pretty high quality lotus over the weekend, but it would taste even better if The Disgruntled Sherpa Project were playing on Saturday afternoon.
You rat bastards!