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Music Review: Swamp Cabbage – Squeal

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Rootsy, southern-fried blues doesn't come much more boggy than Swamp Cabbage. Guitarist-vocalist Walter Parks sings in a scratchy mewl, like the voice ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons uses in songs like "La Grange," or like Wammo of the Asylum Street Spankers. Matt Lindley's tuba-like bass sounds, Jagoda's drums, and Parks's electric guitar get downright elemental, with the predominant element being earth. Stylewise, it's nothing you haven't heard before, but if you like this kind of stuff, these guys definitely deliver.

The CD is handily saved from monotony by solid songwriting, and by airy touches like the female harmonies on the opening stomper, "Jesus Tone," and the upbeat funkiness of the instrumental "Sopchoppy." Still, I'm partial to tunes like "Feedbag," a slow-rolling truck of a song, heavy on the bass, and the moody, gravelly "Poontang," all seven-plus minutes of it. The latter is a grim account of how religion is sometimes sold: "Church lady got me lathered up / She sold me a Bible with her big D cup." And no, it's not funny.

Funny is "Neck Tie Man," which has an old-timey, slow boogie feel, with Eric Brigmond contributing pleasantly drunken-sounding upright piano fills. Amid the jaunty music and Parks's exaggeratedly drawled delivery, you could easily miss the lyrics, which would be a shame.

In "Purdy Mouth," another instrumental, the band adeptly transfers Celtic-tinged bluegrass themes to the electric guitar trio format, then slides the whole thing into jam band territory before bringing it back home. But my favorite track from the second half of the CD is the irresistibly funky party tune "New Voodoo Boogaloo," a song Dr. John could be proud of.

Another fun song is "Delegation," which looks at the lighter side of religion, parodying the peculiarly facile American version of faith: "I don't need to worry 'bout payin' my rent because / The Good Lord'll pay it for me… Start givin' your work to Jesus."

Not convinced? Let's go back to "Feedbag" for a moment. What exactly are they referring to with that title? "Don't be silly don't feel dumb / All God's mammals need calcium." Get it now?

Swamp Cabbage plays at Scotland Yard in Hoboken, NJ on June 17 at 9:30 PM.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is a Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he visits every park in New York City. And by night he's a part-time working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.
  • Walter is one of THE greatest live guitar pickers you’ll find anywhere… and also has a quite extraordinary stage presence. Fact is that this album picks up right where ZZ Top lost their edge. First listen, you’ll ‘get it’ right away, and then it goes on getting better and better. Great songs, and top, top playing. Pop it in the CD changer in the car and you’ll still be going strong several hundred road miles later on…

  • Out of nowhere “Jesus Tone” started playing in my head again the last couple of days. Now I see this.

    It’s good karma, I tell ya.

    (oh, and I agree with your assessment 😉 ).