Sunday, February 08, 2015

Outhead: Send This Sound to the King - DownBeat

Send This Sound To The King

It is rare to encounter a vocal part that inspires a double-take. But Outhead has managed to elicit some on its new album - through a whole bunch of sexual euphemisms. Of course, prurience is in the ear of the beholder, but it might be good to skip a few tracks if the listener looks like anything like the toddler on the cover.

Alto/tenor saxophonist Alex Weiss leads this tight quartet. Bellowing below him is baritone saxophonist Charlie Gurke. While the twin saxophone ensemble is the focus of this album, it is the guests who make it meaty, exotic and even a little bit dirty. An uncredited appearance by guitarist Peter Galub heaps a pile of grungy goodness onto "The Chairman." Bassist Rob Woodcock drops a lumbering bass line over drummer Dillon Westrbook's restrained kit while the saxophones help to turn the tune into an instrumental that would be a good fit for 1980s Tom Waits. The band reclines nicely into its troubadour-punk vibes but also digs into straight, wailing swing. "Trotsky" and "Glass Houses and Gift Horses" are both churning, freewheeling explorations. Gurke wrote the former while Weiss penned the latter. Their similar sensibilities are on constant display as the two interact seamlessly and with deep understanding. The record loses its PG rating with some guest vocal spots. "A Made Truth," written by Westbrook, discourages the listener from any absentminded listening. Vocalist Sarah Horacek matter-of-factly strolls through Westbrook's poem of "throbbing" and "pumping" that ostensibly has to do with a well. When vocalist Eunjin Park returns at the end of the tune with the same poem in accented English, things get a little more confusing. Despite all the "engorged" lyrics, maybe the really are just talking about a well?

Outhead @ DownBeat

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