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Music Review: El Madmo – El Madmo

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If by chance you work for a mass retail conglomerate that contains an obligatory music department, please refrain from shooting customers dumbfounded stares when they ask where you’ve stashed the eponymous debut album by El Madmo.

By the time the album hits stores on May 20, those in the know will already understand that El Madmo – “El” on bass and vocals, “Maddie” on electric guitar and vocals, and “Mo” on drums and vocals – is a wacky-punk-rock band that includes, most notably, Norah Jones.

Under the guise of Maddie, Jones sheds her chanteuse aura to slip into something more uninhibited, rough-edged, and refreshingly (and often comically) raunchy. “In my fantasy, you and me, we screw like bunnies,” she coos in “Fantasy Guy,” one girl’s tale of pining for a man whose wife poses an annoying impediment. On “GGW” – the acronym for Girls Gone Wild – she’s endured enough pick-up lines for one night, warning her drunken suitor, “Don’t you puke on my dress!”

El Madmo sets such frank sentiments to music that is at times shamelessly basic, rhythmically heavy, and downright absurd. What the album lacks in cohesion, though, it makes up for with beguiling songs crammed with their own idiosyncrasies and acerbic charms. From the simmering blues stomp of “Head In A Vise” to the feisty kick of “Carlo!” – “I stare at his ass/He smokes the good grass” – to the naughty innuendo pulsing through “I Like It Low,” the songs are like characters in an adorably deranged and bawdy ensemble stage show.

While the Norah Jones association will no doubt attract curiosity (and perhaps bewilderment), it’s El Madmo’s music that will ultimately assure continued listening. Once you get past the inevitable, initial reaction – “Did she just say that?” – you’ll accept and enjoy this album for what it is: a bizarre little batch of rock and roll that’ll have you grinning and grooving from start to finish.

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About Donald Gibson

Donald Gibson is the publisher of www.writeonmusic.com and a freelance music journalist whose byline has appeared in such publications as No Depression, Spinner, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, Cinema Sentries, Blinded by Sound, and Blogcritics, where he was the Senior Music Editor (2011-2012) and Assistant Music Editor (2008-2011). He has interviewed and profiled such artists as Tony Bennett, Lucinda Williams, Jakob Dylan, Allen Toussaint, Boz Scaggs, Johnny Marr, Charli XCX, Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues), Susanna Hoffs, Bruce Hornsby, Delbert McClinton, Jonny Lang, Alan Parsons, Bill Frisell, Rickie Lee Jones, Christina Perri, Don Felder (The Eagles), Jimmy Webb, Katie Melua, and Buddy Guy, among many others.
  • Wow. Sweet little Norah Jones singing songs about sex in a punk rock band. It’s enough to make me want to get my hair all spiked up, and start hanging out closer to the pit a bit more. Can’t wait to hear this.


  • Very interesting. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Sounds good, and I am always impressed by an artist that refuses to be boxed in. I loved The Little Willies and will be sure to check this out. btw, El is Daru Oda and Mo is Andrew Borger.