Tijuana Hercules — Evening Dressings
(Skin Graft , 2020, CD / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2020-07-08
Tijuana Hercules is here to say, “Don’t drain the swamp, it’s home to many interesting creatures.” The swamp they’re talking about is the metaphorical musical equivalent of a mist-shrouded forest of moss-draped trees that’s somehow also a grimy urban back-alley where all manner of shady business goes down. Deep blues get filtered through a warped prism that captures distorted flecks of other styles like rock and jazz. John Forbes is the ringmaster, his deep, gravelly voice presenting obscure tales of modern life. Musically, there are echoes of Captain Beefheart, with unconventional drumming, blues guitar filtered through an experimental attitude, gritty baritone sax, and a host of unexpected additions. “Let’s Make Our Own Action” brings in a funky clavinet, though the thumping tom-tom beat is far from the usual setting for the sound. “Solid” features some downright weird synthesizer sounds drunkenly wobbling over a loose shuffle groove. “Then after That,” in addition to a smoky Hammond organ, has occasional odd washes of white noise and strange creaking noises as part of its atmosphere. Most of the songs include multiple guitar parts, including electric, acoustic, and slide, and they are used to contrasting effect in the arrangements. Evening Dressings is the fourth full-length album from this Chicago band, their first on Skin Graft, and should result in a higher profile for their distinctive take on experimental blues. They’ve got a unique sound that grabs the ears and won’t let go. And I’m quite pleased that I was able to complete this review without mentioning that other famous American singer with the deep, gravelly voice.
Related artist(s): Tijuana Hercules
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