Oddfellows Review

artist: Tomahawk date: 02/15/2013 category: compact discs
Tomahawk: Oddfellows
Released: Jan 29, 2013
Genre: Experimental Rock, Progressive Rock, Alternative Metal
Label: Ipecac Recordings
Number Of Tracks: 13
Odd fellows indeed; Mike Patton's freakish prog rock quartet return with class and control.
 Sound: 7.5
 Lyrics: 8
 Overall Impression: 8
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reviews (2) 20 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8
Oddfellows Reviewed by: UG Team, on february 04, 2013
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: It's nice when a 'supergroup' (eugh!) make enough of a name for themselves that they can escape that awful tag and build a career of their own. It's also nice when the label of 'alternative metal' is stuck to a band that's actually got some tunes, so on both counts we should feel lucky to have Tomahawk about. Fronted by professional schizophrenic Mike Patton and backed by an ensemble of luminaries from some of the best prog rock bands of the 90s, their record speaks for itself but their music speaks louder. They're one of Patton's less eccentric outfits, but their 2007 outing "Anonymous" was an album of supreme weirdness and new effort "Oddfellows", while a little lighter on the Native American chanting, does have its quirks. The album is split almost song-by-song between chunky rock and slow-burn jazz musings, refreshingly well-structured in both instances. First single "Stone Letters" bravely risks both verse and chorus in traditional fashion, while the grungey "Waratorium" boasts just one riff but moves with equal purpose. A few years ago the understated, unassuming "Rise Up Dirty Waters" would have drifted into endless channels of meandering but here it's wrapped up in a tight three minutes, and largely thanks to new bass player Trevor Dunn. An extremely accomplished player (and peer of inimitable avant-garde composer John Zorn), Dunn holds the band together wonderfully well, guiding them through piano and forte, consonance and dissonance to some of the best moments since their 2001 debut on "Baby Let's Play ____" and "White Hats/Black Hats". Listen out for him. // 8

Lyrics: Of the 1,800 known vocal styles committed to tape by Mike Patton, only a small handful are trotted out here. The tireless bellows of the title track will be familiar to fans of Faith No More, while the mutters and whispers of "A Thousand Eyes" tease melody but offer far more in the way of atmosphere. At 45, we're looking at a man who may be starting to lose a little of his versatility to wear and tear, but his dedication to breaking new ground and doing so in the interest of the music stands up to scrutiny time and time again. That said, "Oddfellows" may not be his most memorable venture from a vocal perspective. // 8

Overall Impression: The delicate balance between stimulation and accessibility here is struck with regularity, maintaining a broad alternative rock appeal but hitting all the right buttons for nerdy musicians who may be listening. These songs repay further listening as time goes on, and the variety of sounds on offer mean that even if, say, the metally riffing turns you off at first, there'll be plenty else to keep you coming back until that sinks in too. Something which takes such investment to yield its full reward may not set the world alight but the arrival of Dunn on bass in particular has made a difference to Tomahawk; this might well be their best album since the eponymous debut all those years ago.

// 8

- Duncan Geddes (c) 2013

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overall: 7.7
Oddfellows Reviewed by: shaundp, on february 15, 2013
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Tomahawk has been one of my favorite bands for a while now. Their self-titled debut and their second album, "Mit Gas", gave me high expectations for "Oddfellows" - especially after the disappointing 2007 album, "Anonymous". This album marks a semi-reunion of sorts, as well as adding bassist Trevor Dunn, who replaced Kevin Rutmanis. Personally, I prefer Rutmanis, but Dunn is an excellent replacement, having previously worked with singer Mike Patton in Fantmas and Mr. Bungle. The actual music in the album ranges in genre and style, ranging from jazz to straight-up rock. Some notable songs include "Rise Up Dirty Waters", for its jazzy verse leading into an explosive barrage of guitar and Patton's gritty vocals; The title track, "Oddfellows", for its slinking 7/8 verse and emphatic chorus; and "South Paw" for its varied sounds that somehow make a straightforward rock song. // 7

Lyrics: Mike Patton is undoubtedly one of the most significant singers in rock music (and other genres), and his work on "Oddfellows" is no exception. Patton's lyrics are perfectly tailored for the music, and at times one can't help but feel that he is the centerpiece of the band. A good example of this is the song "Choke Neck", where Patton's voice overshadows every other instrument to make for an in your face rock track. Most of the lyrical work on the album is good, but there are a couple tracks that fall flat, such as "I Can Almost See Them" where the lyrics seem out of place and uninteresting. // 8

Overall Impression: "Oddfellows" might not be as good as Tomahawk's 2001 self-titled debut, but it is still a solid album that deserves a listen. Fans of Patton's other works may be disappointed by the lack of the signature weirdness and experimental sounds that can be found in Fantmas or Mr. Bungle. Some of the more significant songs on the album are "Oddfellows", "South Paw", "Waratorium", and "Rise Up Dirty Waters", for their varied styles and musical quality that calls for repeat listenings. The best part of this album is also in some ways its worst part. The album is a straightforward rock album which is a great departure from the Native American sounds of "Anonymous". At the same time this is the album's greatest weakness, as it lacks the zany lyrics and music found in previous Tomahawk songs, such as "Harelip" from "Mit Gas" or "Jockstrap" from the self-titled album. If this album were lost I would definitely buy it again. // 8

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