The Iceman Special’s Facebook bio says the group transplanted itself from Louisiana swamps to New Orleans. Traces of the swamp appear in the group’s eccentric, sometimes phantasmagoric music. Prog rock, metal, reggae and disco all filter through the band’s audio collages.
The Iceman Special’s album debut is a 13-track voyage to the music of the 1970s and ’80s and this quartet’s genre-splicing present. Band members William Murry, Charlie Murry, Steve Staples and Hunter Romero share songwriting credits. The band’s composition-by-committee is easy to believe because the songs are all over the musical universe—opening song “Time 1:44” blends psychedelic flourish and dense ’80s, alt-rock production. The keyboard solo in “Time” would have been nice, but it’s too low in the mix. “Expectations” turns neo-disco with a riffing horn section, wah-wah guitar and chorus of vocals. True to its title, “Zydeco Radio” features that indigenous southwest Louisiana genre’s driving rhythm. “Zydeco Radio” also transitions into reggae and spacy electronic and guitar excursions. Somehow, all of that variety within a single song works. The song also shows that the members of Iceman Special, like their prog-rock ancestors, are skilled musicians.
“Losing Your Crazy” and “Kraut Ruckus” find the Iceman Special coming on strong with INXS-style funk-rock. Emulating Yes, Genesis and Wishbone Ash, the changing tempos and contrasting sections in a trio of songs (“Hey Get Up,” “School Boy,” “5PM”) emphasize the band’s prog-rock chops. The most curious example of the Iceman Special’s versatility surfaces in the brisk “Tour Thru Ecuador”: a surf guitar solo.
Although exceptional singing hasn’t been a requirement for popular music for many decades, the Iceman Special’s vocals don’t match the band’s musicianship. They’re not in the same league as such precedent-setting voices as Yes’ Jon Anderson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s and King Crimson’s Greg Lake. The band’s nationwide performance calendar suggests it’s successfully finding a national following.