LORENZO’S MUSIC – Solamenté Tres Palabras
Hip really doesn’t cut it. These boys transcend the cool, swinger sound that they have carefully cultivated over the past decade. They’ve grown up and brought their music with them, squeezing out a driving rock aesthetic from their martini-and-cigarette-stoked grooves. With the gritty vocal tone of a 2-pack-a-day habit mixing with a whiskey-fueled rhythm section and frenetic guitar tones, this new creation from these Madison mainstays sits right in the pocket, gurgling with flavor and finesse.
The influences and musical identities that form the core of this band are so disparate as to seem insane. With Middle Eastern flairs, a jazz mood and acid-rock tonality, Lorenzo’s Music takes ownership of their sound with deference to the music they love. While opening up the disc with Internet DJs talking about how great the band is may come off as a little pompous, they are immediately forgiven as the first tune, “I’m Doing Fine,” first booms into the room. The kick is vigorous and excellent and the drums, performed by Scott Beardsley, remain a constant strength on this disc. The island-inspired guitar lick wraps around the simple vocal line, building their groove immediately. As the clarinet, played by Josh VanDeHey, slips into the mix, a klezmer intensity takes over. In fact, the horns sprinkled throughout the album, supplied by saxman Bryan Elliot, add a layer of flavor that maintains the pace and presence throughout the album.
Longtime bassist for the band Mark Whitcomb passed the low-end torch to Chris Boeger for this offering and strapped on his axe instead. The uber-distorted sounds that creep around this album, stabbing at the riffs with a defined edge, are the primary catalyst for the evolution of this band’s music. The solo on “You Were Blonde” is simple and tasty, with a whining resonance that cuts into the sound and helps usher the tune into the crazed, rock ‘n’ roll finale. But it arrives at the classic rock of “One More One,” with its tight riff hinting at Blue Oyster Cult or even Black Sabbath mentality while remaining utterly true to their lounge-y spirit. But while Whitcomb’s new approach to the guitars on this album may reshape the band a bit, Tom Ray’s raspy voice keeps the band rooted in their distinctive sound. His tone is unrelenting and his delivery is always slick.
Perhaps the starring feature of this disc, though, is the production. It is one of the most accomplished local releases I’ve heard, with a wide soundfield, a full presence and a creativity that has become the hallmark of Mark Whitcomb’s work at DNA Studios. The mix is nearly perfect, with each instrument fully represented and the overall impact continually asserting itself. As the final track, “Hot Winter Avalanche,” launches into its neo-dance vibe, replete with mechanized sound effects and hard-panned vocal-doubling filling the room, the entire identity of this band is redefined. The saxes squeal over overdriven screams in the chorus and the bass line ambles gracefully through the maze. This final song, though obtrusively introduced by more DJs praising the band’s ingenuity, is a triumph of production. The layering of sounds and the deft definition of the rhythm, from the first hits to the trailing percussion that closes the disc, is… well… beautiful. The final hits, following the tune far in the distance, are a final statement of production prowess that sets this album apart from so many local releases. While some may point to the gear or the unlimited access to one of the best studios in the state, it is the talent and performances that make this disc stand out. Luckily Whitcomb’s talent in the studio is for hire, but you’ll have to supply your own performances.
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