Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Review: Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen - Parasols and Pekingese

Label: Late Bloomers Works

Released: May 31, 2008

One look at the cover of Parasols and Pekingese leaves little doubt where the album is going. It mixes art deco style with the painted effects of a pre-linen postcard. As the cover suggests, Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen look back to simpler, more honest times. There's nothing new in that. Americana bands and folk-punk bands among others have been at it for quite awhile. The better artists are steeped in these days gone by while others just have a kitschy veneer. It doesn't take long (probably a matter of seconds, not minutes) to recognize that Tippy and her band are the former.

From the rollicking rootsy country of "Mass Transmissions" to the dark sensuality of "Sleep, Sleep My Dear" and everything in between, Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen prove that theirs is more than a passing interest in the treasure trove of the past. Tippy's voice can tap both Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday and the Paddlemen themselves are so good they're easy to miss in a sense. There isn't a self-serving note played with all focus on the songs and not the players.

While "Neighbor of the Tell-Tale Heart" is the album's most memorable track with it's rich, old time country sound and undeniable hook, it is perhaps "Champs-Élysées" that gives greatest testament to the band's strength. Anytime, a band can fit the Pretenders into an old-time album this seemlessly, they have to be good, pure and simple.

While looking to the past for inspiration is fairly common these days, Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen easily stand out. Not only is their music completely immersed in the past, but it also exists very much in the present.

Satriani: 8/10
Zappa: 8/10
Dylan: 8/10
Aretha: 8/10
Overall: 8/10



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