Recreational Vehicles, the debut album from the Oxford, Miss.-based electronic rock band Zoogma is available for free download at the band’s Web site, zoogma.net. (A donation is encouraged.) This magnanimity is doubtless rooted in the band’s understanding that their strength is in their live show, where dance-crazy fans can bliss out to the bands dense, funky grooves set to an impressive custom light show.
That may be largely true, but this quintet, which includes former Memphians Brock Bowling and Ryan Nail, may be selling themselves short. For sure this is music to get down with in the mode of STS9 or Perpetual Groove, instrumentals full of long trance grooves and simple melodic variations with no vocals to muddy the dance floor. But the players, most of whom are schooled in other styles of music, including jazz, R&B, and psychedelic rock, bring an uncommon measure of musicianship to bear, turning songs such as the guitar showcase “Okami” into full-realized pieces of music, not just floor-fillers.
The Preacher’s Wife
Memphis-based Southern Soul label Ecko Records is one of the few local music business success stories of recent years. The label has enjoyed a lot of successes mining a seemingly endless string of cookie-cutter bawdy blues belters and packaging them on no-budget, synth-heavy, one-man band albums whose production values are permanently frozen in the early ’80s. Besides the kitsch value, which admittedly wears thin quickly, the pleasure in an Ecko lies in the character of the performers and the witty songcraft.
Clarksdale’s Luther Lackey, whose new disc The Preacher’s Wife is his third release for Ecko, got his start penning such songs for artists like Mr. Zay. His newest continues to showcase his knack for injecting both humor and pathos into deceptively telling relationship songs like the adultery tale “It Ain’t Easy Being The Preacher’s Wife” and, perhaps less so, the unforgettable “I Got Caught Butt Naked” (and its even better titled sequel “I Got Caught Butt Naked, Part 2”) featuring his popular character Southern Soul Mama. That title alone is worth two-and-a-half stars.
Mr. Soul Recordings
The exotically named Grupo Jobu is the new band project of local singer-songwriter Jobu Babin. Percussionist Jason Vawter and keyboardist Amy Chan round out the lineup, but the musical vision remains Babin’s. The singer-songwriter has been playing around town solo for awhile and last year released a solo disc, La Semana, a relatively straightforward folk rock effort.
This follow-up shares La Semana’s lo-fi, homemade vibe, but is otherwise an altogether weirder, more ambitious effort. A talented guitarist Babin, combines superior fretwork with the moody poetry of Elliot Smith and the artsy pretension of Pink Floyd. The results, including trope-busting epics like “The Maelstrom” and “The Hajj” in which guitars, bass, and drums combine in a percussive dervish, could stand more ironing out but at least are never boring.
Available for download at http://grupojobu.bandcamp.com.