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Sound Check

1/29/2014

CD ClaypoolLes Claypool’s Duo de Twang

“Four Foot Shack”

ATO

Every once in a while the really talented people in this world will come up with something so off-the-wall, so inventive, that it kind of forces you to re-examine them and say, “Wow, they’re good.” Enter Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang. Consisting of Claypool, guitarist Brian Kehoe and little else, “Four Foot Shack” covers everything from Primus classics to Jerry Reed to the Bee Gees, and it’s all amazing. Powered by Kehoe’s acoustic guitar and Claypool’s twang bass, the tracks are all crazed fever-dream versions of themselves. When, on the cover of Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box,” Claypool sings, “I am the man in the box/for some reason I’m buried with my very own shit,” he manages to point out the theater-of-the-absurd quality of the original, while simultaneously kicking it up a notch. With 11 months left to the year, I’m still going to call this the most original album of 2014. CV

 

HIV

CD ommOf Mice and Men

“Restoring Force”

Rise

Want to play a fun game sometime? Find someone who’s purchased a pair of Beats By Dre headphones, then make them listen to a song through a pair of headphones that don’t suck, and watch their eyes as they simultaneously realize they’ve been missing a whole midrange of sound, and that they dropped $200 on crappy earmuffs. The same thing is liable to happen to the fans of “The Flood,” Of Mice and Men’s previous effort, after listening to “Restoring Force.” There’s a lot more nuance and subtlety to be found here, but it might make any previous investment in the band feel like wasted effort. To some, “Restoring Force” will feel like a sell-out effort to get more radio play. To others, a band who owes the bulk of its fan base to Hot Topic can’t really sell out much more, so any effort to grow and explore is a good thing. CV

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