Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Acoustic Ladyland - Living With a Tiger (Strong and Wrong, 2009)

Far from acoustic, but certainly Hendrixian in nature, Acoustic Ladyland combines jazz and punk rock in the manner of Gutbucket and other electrified instrumental groups. The group is made up of Peter Wareham on saxophones, Chris Sharkey on guitar, Ruth Goller on bass, and Seb Rochford on drums. The group has a real go for broke sound on most of the album, with short pithy songs that hit hard and end quickly, focusing more on combined instrumental impact than elaborate soloing. The title track, “Living With the Tiger” and it’s follow up, “Gratitude” had the most impact for me, driven by propulsive, almost manic bass and drums, along with slashing guitar and raw and grinding saxophone. When they keep the kettle on full boil, the group is very successful, and as they would have it, most of the album operates that way, creating an atmosphere not unlike a jazz analogue of an old Ramones LP, with short, potent blasts of sound. The energy flags at the end of the album, as if the group was exhausted at expanding so much energy. The attempt at a ballad, “The Mighty Q” comes off a little stale, but the group rallies to finish strong with medium-up rockers “Worry” and “You and I.” I like the impish sense of in your face play that pervades most of this album. The band plays a taught jazz - rock fusion, but they never fall into the empty virtuosity that holds back other music of that ilk.

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