Release DetailsLABEL CLS Records
RELEASED ON 10/1/2006
Ten Little Freuds, Ten Little Gonzos
posted on 12/2006 By:
Remember that South Park where the town is invaded by hippies? It started with a drum circle in the back yard, and the next thing you knew the (not so) quiet Colorado town was completely infested with hippies engaged in a six-day jam band festival. Which of course meant that Eric "Respect Mah Authoritahy!" Cartman made it his quest to exterminate this burgeoning group of dirty squatters by plowing through (literally) the mass of people in the "Hippie Digger", a construction vehicle with a huge spiraling cone-shaped drill, in order to get to the center of the gathering. And what drives the hippies screaming from the town? The sound of Reign in Blood played over the PA. "Hippies hate death metal". Genre hair splitting aside, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, as usual, were right on the money. South Park is great. Reign in Blood is great. Hippies are more conditional, and it’s the same story with Hippikiller. Sure, there’s some free love, extended jams, and some reaaaaallly good grilled cheese to be enjoyed, but you have to enjoy them in a cloud of pachouli that only partly masks the cloud of body odor. And then there’s that dancing... Same story with this album.
Pardon the lack of focus–perhaps it’s an after-effect of Ten Little Freuds, Ten Little Gonzos, an interesting but sometimes grating effort from Budapest’s own Hippikiller. The band’s sound is derived from the sometimes odd bedmates of artsty quirkiness, and classic rock attitude, crossed with flourishes of affinity for early metal. The band’s first output was a single titled "Iron Maiden or Judas Priest", and their stance seems pretty clear, as the art house and very European song tosses in stretches of riffs from Priest classics like "Sinner" and "Breaking the Law". If that wasn’t enough, Ten Little Freuds... boasts a version of the frequently (and rightfully) derided Priest staple "Turbo Lover", which is deconstructed and retooled in a quiet and mostly acoustic ethereal take that works quite well. However, the electronic soaked remix tacked on to the end of the album is somewhat less convincing.
I can’t entirely make up my mind if my gripes about this album result predominantly from its lack of focus, or if I simply prefer the more artsy material to the rocking numbers which are typically less compelling, and usually suffer from sub-par vocals. The prevailing rule is that the less singing the better, as illustrated by the opening tracks of "Kuksi Overture", an instrumental reworking of "Iron Maiden or Judas Priest" that’s built on what comes off like a post-punk early Slint riff with some jazz garnishes. Then there’s "Helpless", which opens with a truncated "Never Satisfied"-style (more Priest) riff before injecting some artsy-fartsy, but damn fine, spaciness and spoken female vocals. The phrasing on the track is interesting and well composed, which is a frequent strength of the album.
So far so good, but track three ushers in the problem with Ten Little Freuds, Ten Little Gonzos. "Dead Zen Masters’ March", along with "Hippikiller", "Budapest Rockandroll" and "Superfast" exhibit what the band calls a "kick-maximum-ass Ted Nugent-ish rockandroll attitude", which, unless these guys have a thing for right wing politics, underage women, and bad, bad 80's power ballads, refers to the free-wheeling classic rock and roll ethos they’ve blended with their more heady, even antiseptic, experimental base. This material is simply less enjoyable than the album’s other tracks, but again, often builds on some interesting guitar lines and melodic byways, as the band puts their best rock foot forward with “Budapest Rockandroll”. Balázs Bihari’s vocals are very often what’s most off-putting, especially when they teeter into a forced, melodic, very clean delivery. Some tracks are a true grab bag of the band’s strengths and deficits, like "High Heels, Lost Years", part bump and grind blues-based rocker, and part alterna spirit that manages to be alternately grating and intriguing. Incidentally, there’s a stretch midway through that sounds like it came straight off a mid-era Pavement album. The clean guitar work and effective and well-used basslines, as well as pacing and development of the songs are the strengths of the album, as there is no shortage of clever transitions and lead work.
The material’s quirkiness manages to be both an asset, and sticking point overall. Ten Little Freuds... comes off as an album from a respectably talented mind, but one that is hampered by limitations in execution and songwriting coherence. Ultimately, the album’s strengths are offset by enough negative or neutral factors that Ten Little Freuds, Ten Little Gonzos falls just shy of the mark, which is too bad since there are several interesting facets at work. Investigate before forking over for this one.
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