Stevedores=the rock awesomeness
A friend of mine hooked me up with this CD a while ago, and I listened to it pretty casually--while I was working, etc. But soon I was craving this CD more and more. It sounded really fresh compared to what I was previously listening to, and it wasn't long before I was putting 'That Wouldn't be Right,' 'Thunderdome,' or 'Landing at the Vatican' on various mix CDs. Now nary a week goes by in which I don't listen to Tamuawok (what the hell does 'Tamuawok' mean anyway?), and I can proudly say that this is one of the best CDs in my collection.
The musicianship on Tamuawok is first rate, and the band seamlessly blends the best elements of the Pixies, Tom Waits, and Sonic Youth into something completely original. The production is surprisingly great for such a DIY band, and the band's energy level is apparent on all nine tracks. Most bands calling themselves 'rock' these days are afraid to do just that, and the vibrant, charismatic garage-lounge of the Stevedores provides a welcome alternative. Experimental without being boring, poppy without being grating, and stream-of-concious without being hogwash, the Stevedores are one of the best new bands to come along in a while. Easily one of the best things to come out of Wisconsin since the Pabst Brewing Company.
But you don't have to take my word for it--the music speaks for itself. Pick up Tamuawok and give in to the rock monsters that are the Stevedores. Well done, guys--when can we get a follow-up? Or even better, a tour?
An incredible album unlike any other!
When I first heard Tamuawok., I was amazed by how much passion and musical virtuoso was contained within. From the album artwork (all done by hand) to the clever lyrics to the multitude of instrumentation (which, at times, bombard you and, at other times, are stripped to reveal crystal clear vocals, a playful keyboard, or an unwinding guitar), Tamuawok. is teeming with greatness and an authentic DIY ethos. Every track possesses its own funk and flavor, as The Stevedores combine and recreate fragments of every conceivable rock n' roll genre: from bluesy rock to acoustic rock to hard rock to country rock to alternative rock to psychedelic rock to garage rock, with a healthy dose of something uniquely Stevedores.
The quirky and often conversational lyrics tell little stories (especially the tale of "The Day The Stranger Came to Dos Manos") and the album flows with ease, though each track is self-contained and memorably charming on its own accord. Spencer Bell's voice is absolutely brilliant; he sounds like an old crooner, hitting note after note and driving the forceful instrumentation of every track. "That Wouldn't Be Right" is bright and cheerful, even though the lyrics suggest something slightly cynical; and midway through, the vocals bleed emotion as the guitar breaks away to escape the confines of melody. "Clever Phraseology" is dancey, but with organic instruments; not in that obvious and uninspired electro-clash sort of way. There's an awesome instrument freak-out in the middle of the song, where everything just goes wild, until streaming together again under the mighty reign and gusto of Bell's voice ("Hardwired" is another fine example of this...just, wow!).
The last track, "Thunderdome" is definitely the standout; both epic and anthemic, with a feel-good vibe that is neither cheesy nor overdone. With a horn, marching-band-esque drum rolls, punchy baseline, dynamic vocals, and a variety of other sound effects and noises (like hand-clapping), "Thunderdome" is one of a kind. Everything about this album, from its obvious Westerns motif, to its witty lyrics, to its boisterous and overwhelming swells of sound, and awe-inspiring guitar solos, feels real, organic, original, and heartfelt. These guys definitely know what they are doing. Somehow, they are catchy without being cliché or falling into any formulaic traps. This is a great party album; a great ANYTHING album in fact. Just great great great!!! Seriously, there is nothing else quite like it.
There's something about The Stevedores that sounds like they've come to us from another decade. Spencer Bell's deep, emotive vocals and the band's varied use of instrumentation summon comparisons to old Rolling Stones or maybe Billy Idol's "White Wedding." Though interesting and oddball, their lyrics hint of a group of people who have seen and done more than their time here should have allotted them. But despite their old-soul quality, The Stevedores' album Tamuawok. also fits right in on a modern jukebox in the east village. Rockin' right here in the 21st century are songs like "That Wouldn't Be Right" and "Hardwired" that are both bluesy and simultaneously danceable, along with others like "Fearful" that have bits of slow piano and a dose of frantic anxiety mixed into them. Lead by strong beats, an array of instruments (ranging from horns to rich strings to hand clapping) and profoundly soulful vocals, Tamuawok. is a rich and delicate mix of sound readymade to be put into heavy rotation, whether you listen to it in your room or in a dark bar.