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A Visit to "Garageland"
Getting past the really cool and title-appropriate cover photo, this EP is a great one to snag for those who've been living in a cave & are not yet familiar with these Nashville "cats" where instro is alive & thriving. For the gear heads, I'm told the guitars were all through a Quilter 101 Micro - that should settle that. Jeff Senn can (hopefully) speak in the forum to any particular cabinets & effects used used.
Scorpions - This track is by (normally) rhythm player Kiwamu Stewart. You know, the guy that helps keep that groove going as well as filling out an unreal number of parts that make their live performance so full and "record-like." So this is Kiwamu's composition, rhythm & lead played, and it's got a VERY definite Crazy Ace familiarity to it. Somewhat reminds me of an anti-hero who gets in his very fast car in the dead of night & is blowing town, but has heartstrings being tugged as well as some some payback remaining to be dealt out. Nice to have Kiwamu expand his role in this way.
Rudy's Revenge - I'm told the basic groove comes from Alex McCollough ably holding down the bass duties, with the rest fleshed out by the band. Throw the parasol out of your cutesy drink and get moving on the floor. As often with Crazy Aces there is a brief foreboding bridge but one that maintains the groove. (The beat on this one is grand-daughter-approved.)
Trail of the Mystery Men? - I had to listen to this one several times over several days. It begins with a familiar Crazy Ace like western vibe that recurs - and a sound I would've sworn was the setup for Eastwood Outlaw on their first album, Greatest Hits Vol. 2. (But, as mentioned, this is Quilter 101.) The composition is something a bit different and it seems the cinematic good-idea-faerie struck Jeff Senn, as it segues to sequences that could be a summary of several themes that would be evident throughout an old-west tale, but used for different scenes. I came to visualize two antagonists, neither good or bad, but rivals who may or may not do each other in. The story can weave as the imagination takes it, as they dance through the plot. There are brief stops to more orchestral movements that are somewhat whimsical when juxtaposed against the obvious Crazy Aces nod to the genre. The acoustic guitar work from Jeff is stellar; almost thought I was listening to a Tommy Tedesco lesson from the back of a GP mag.
Modelo Uno - A clearly Latin-flavored tune (to my ear) that really showcases the Model One guitar. Those who've seen the demo of the Eastwood-produced/Jeff Senn-designed Model One will be familiar with this tune. Lovely tremelo at no extra charge. (Can't wait for my own Modelo Uno.) For me, it's a happy tune and hearkens to heading down a cul-de-sac & finding that someone's garage door IS open and, "hey!, there's a band!" (But then I'm in my sixties goin' on 15, so...)
Chop and Channel - This final track said hot rod to me immediately. Probably a dated analogy but, for me, it's headed out of town for the proverbial chicken run as depicted in many films from James Dean to American Graffiti. There is a building climax that still comes back to the groove, which is like an anchor allowing some melodic departures that are cool when executed this well.
This is one of those bands whose members clearly play for the good of the song, with their egos resolutely checked before walking through the door. Plenty of sonic room allowed in the mix for everything that matters. (I can often recognize Jeff by his humorous quirk of sometimes just taking the finishing note of a V-chord and hitting something a 1/2 step higher or lower, bending optional, and it says "I'm havin' fun.")
Pre- and post- Surf Guitar 101 Convention Crazy Aces will be:
at Don the Beachcomber's, Friday, August 12th at, 9:00 PM, along with Outerwave, as well as
Huntington Beach Pier Plaza: Huntington Beach, CA, Sunday, August 14th, with a full lineup starting at 11:00 AM.
I hope lots of SG101 Convention goers will hit the early slot in the day and catch Crazy Aces - they will not regret it. You can sleep when you get old; suck it up buttercup.
Crazy Aces are: Jeff Senn, Kiwamu Stewart, Alex McCollough with Justin Amaral joining on very solid drums for this release. Hope we hear more from Justin with them.