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Liquid Zoo

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Album Review

On their second full-length studio album, Liquid Zoo, Los Angeles quintet 100 Monkeys continues to pursue its eclectic, individual path, drawing on multiple musical influences and its own oddball sense of humor. It might be said of the group, comprising multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Jerad Anderson, Jackson Rathbone, Ben Graupner, and Ben Johnson, plus the much older associate known only as "Uncle," that they fit somewhere into the Southern California rocksteady/ska scene that produced No Doubt and that they've spent time listening to white funk bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But that only scratches the surface of their stylistic mash-up. If L.A. is notorious for its rootlessness, these musical pranksters fit right in, jumping from one form of music to another, just as they abruptly switch moods, time signatures, and singers. A song like the opener "The Fair" may proceed like a midtempo soul number until the bridge, where it suddenly makes a left turn toward raucous, distorted rock. Or, the rocksteady rhythm of "The Sound" may slow down to a crawl without warning. It is this hellzapoppin quality that 100 Monkeys celebrate. They are opposed to the person addressed in "Wandering Mind," who is "always in control" and "so damn perfect." Not them. They may go off in any direction at any time, even reaching back in L.A. lore to suggest the Doors through the organ sound and sonorous baritone vocal of "Black Diamond." But that's just one more sidestep in an album full of musical digressions that add up to an exhilarating, if scattershot, listening experience.

Liquid Zoo, 100 Monkeys
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