Thursday, August 28, 2008

Review: Mad Tea Party - Found a Reason

Label: Nine Mile Records

Released: July 15, 2008

There is an interesting revival of old-time music afoot. Tapping into vaudeville, string bands and vocal groups of the 30s and 40s, these bands' strengths can also be their limitations, making many strictly revivalists rather a modern look at the past. A few, however, manage to break the bounds of revivalism to make music that is as thoroughly modern as it is old-time.

Mad Tea Party is just one of those bands. Like their peers, both vaudeville and string band music runs throughout, but they aren't satisfied to have Found a Reason limited to just that. Like few of their peers, Mad Tea Party is part of the uke-billy scene, a small but perhaps growing subgenre where the ukulele rocks like never before. Ami Worthen's voice brings the charming, quirky beauty of the days before dull, cookie-cutter perfection to an album that has roots in the past but also stands firmly in more modern times with both social commentary and pop culture (was that a Pac Man reference?). They can follow-up a fun look at adolescent awkwardness in "I Never Was a Cool One" with the quiet sadness of "Waltz of Despair" and no one will blink. They just have that unique ability to move around like that and yet retain their purity in a way that only bands like the Dead and the Violent Femmes can.

Jason Krekel's licks are at times worthy of Chuck Berry as Mad Tea Party rips through some great rock n roll. Yet, they don't even stop there, moving into early 60s AM pop and surf at times as well. Mad Tea Party still manages to package this up into a distinctive homogeneous sound, taking detours that enhance the trip but don't change the destination. Their multi-faceted soul moves in ways that are both serious and fun, sometimes at the same time.

Satriani: 8/10
Zappa: 7/10
Dylan: 8/10
Aretha: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

"Every Way" video

Mad Tea Party - "Every Way" (2008) from Skizz Cyzyk on Vimeo.




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Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

sounds terrific...weird and eclectic

7:31 PM  

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