This funky album has a lot going for it, but the best thing about it is… the lyrics? Not something you’d often say about an album in this genre, but it’s been a long while—specifically, since the heyday of All That—since so much sharp satire and so many good one-liners have turned up on a brass-centered disc.Buy on AmazonBuy on iTunes
Leader and tuba player Tim Stambaugh writes most of the lyrics, but as his lips are otherwise engaged, guitarist Dave James does the singing. The opening “12.21.12” reveals what will really happen on that date, which will supposedly see a major shift in the world’s chemistry: it turns out that the ancient Mayans will rise to do battle with the Saints. “I’m a Legend” pulls a killer rhyme of “Korea” with “gonorrhea,” and confirms that it’s finally okay to make fun of people still patting themselves on the back for doing rescue work during Katrina. And “Save the Whales” serves up a few preposterous reasons to get off those creatures’ backs.
The lineup has no shortage of instrumental firepower, sharing band members with Gal Holiday (James), Papa Grows Funk (saxophonist Jason Mingledorff) and the venerable Dukes of Dixieland (lead trumpeter Kevin Clark). The middle stretch of the CD downplays the gags to show off the group’s eclecticism. “I Ain’t Got None” matches a horn line you might recognize (especially if you know Dr. John’s version of “Iko Iko”) with stabs of heavy metal guitar. “Mi Machete” features a guest vocal from Fredy Omar, but it’s less in his usual Latin bag and more like something Freddy Fender might have done in the Texas Tornados.
Covers here include one New Orleans-associated classic, King Floyd’s “Groove Me,” served up funkily and faithfully. But they deserve some kind of prize for a far less obvious choice: Spirit’s 1970 FM-rock classic “Mr. Skin,” with the call-and-response verses maintained, the “na-na-na” chorus handled by the horns, and a nifty trombone solo added. It suggests that an all-New Orleans version of 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus is long overdue.