Sunday, March 11, 2012
Wild Goosechase Expedition by Spottiswoode and His Enemies Album Review- The songs play like drunken tales, part cabaret, and part campfire stories.
The latest excursion by Spottiswoode and His Enemies is called Wild Goosechase Expedition. With Spottiswoode as our charming bon vivant, provocateur, and maybe shady leader, the songs play like drunken tales told over one too many drinks. Many are the stuff of legends, part cabaret and part campfire stories. His six cohorts on this musical adventure are all serious musicians, in fact the musicality on this album is top notch while the effect is some times less than serious as some of the songs not only possess wit and charm but also heavy doses of dark and light comic twists as well. One thing that has to be said for any one reading this review who has not heard Spottiswoode is that he has a drop dead gorgeous voice. It has character. It feels seasoned and maybe even bruised and battered. His vocal performances on many of these songs conjure up an every man who you want to root for but who may of been already put through someone's ringer. His voice can sound warm and worn and needing of a hug.
It goes without saying that much of the entertainment value and emotional tug contained in these songs hinges on that voice- it also hinges on acerbic songwriting and killer musical chops from his band. The song playing while extremely tight can also sound crazy and loose like improvisational jazz. In Sometimes- the wall of sounds blending rockish guitar, almost dissonant horn lines and a 40's porch jazz beat absolutely jams. Beautiful Morning is at once joyous and sardonic. That "Spottiswoode" voice dances freely over this indie pop song which itself grows into a wild celebration. Purple River Yellow Sun has an almost fever dream quality- the musical bed blends so many styles from contemporary pop to late 70's rock, R and B and more. It is surreal at times and amazing. On the lighter side, Just a Word I Use vacillates between sounds that evoke slow bike rides in Paris or Spain to edgy rock strains more at home at the Whisky a Go Go on the Hollywood Strip. Chariot feels like a song with wounds so fresh that Spottiswoode's can't bear to speak certain words but just hums instead. It is quite beautiful and disarming. Problem Child moves like a runaway kid- it is cinematic and sweet, a beckoning concern from a parent to a child.
The most whimsical piece on the record is the title track Wild Goosechase Expedition. It is a dynamic full tilt nightmare waltz of a song that feels at times, like a dixieland jazz band falling down the stairs. It is charming, funny, inventive and feels like a sound track to some Tim Burton movie. All My Brothers feels like a bit like psychedelic 60's garden rock. Wake Me Up When It's Over is like a spaghetti western eulogy. The Rain Won't Come feels kind of like Smithereens alternative 90 post punk with some driving surfy guitars and screaming leadwork. Spottiswoode vocal performance is loose and double jointed. Wonderful Surprise with it's downbeat piano, trading woodwinds and bittersweet vocals has a cool musical narrative reminiscent of parts of the Beatles Abbey Road or the Kinks Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.
Wild Goosechase Expedition ends with You Won't Forget Your Dream that is appropriately dreamy in tone. It also rocks like hell and the last third of the song has a blustery incredible trumpet solo and then an over the top response by piano that absolutely raises the bar. It is a fitting end to a spectacular album. There are songs that I chose not to mention because doing so would of turned this review into a novella but the entire album is unique and sparkles like the wink that I imagine exists in Spottiswoode's eye.
Spottiswoode and His Enemies