Gay Paris – The Skeleton’s Problematic Granddaughter (2011)

Posted: May 18, 2011 in Music

The last couple of album reviews I have posted have encompassed the glorious (DreamCatcher), the chaotic (Atari Teenage Riot) and the inexplicably perfect (The Devin Townsend Project.)

What I present to you now is nowhere near any of the above, but don’t give up on this post just yet. There is something about this album that has caught my ear, and while you’ve never heard of Gay Paris, there is something to be said about their debut release The Skeleton’s Problematic Granddaughter.

Before we go any further, I have to admit to my readers that I’ve never been much of a “sludge rock” fan. While millions praise the sound of such bands as Clutch, Crowbar and the rest, I’ve always found the sound a little unaccessible. That’s not to say it isn’t good music for some – it just never grabbed hold of me from a structure or musicianship standpoint. The closest I get to liking a “sludge band” is Mastodon or Black Label Society, but I don’t really consider either of those bands to fit the labeling (even though they are listed as such.) But in fairness to the scene, and to keep the variety of this blog, I barreled down two shots of whiskey and gave this record a listen.

It’s what one would expect from a sludge band. Dirty, greasy vocals, fuzzy guitars, and jam-band structure. What was unexpected was how much I enjoyed this album. I think what took a bite out of me was the unconventional style this band represents. Sure it’s messy and muddy, but it’s interesting as fuck. It hints at the blues like most sludge albums, but there’s some subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints at psychobilly, country, and unadulterated Southern rock pegged all over this release.

With crazy song titles, insane metaphors in the lyrics, and enough different vocal stylings to make Tom Waits weep, the album takes the listener on a hazy, humid ride through nine tracks of cowbell-riddled euphoria. It’s unpredicatable, it’s bizarre, and it’s noisy – which would all mean nothing if it didn’t actually work – but it does.

It lays heavy on the moonshine-swillin’ rock at times, and smooths out to some deep blues sounds at other moments, but it somehow all comes together for an experience that I have honestly not weathered before on one album.

The poetry itself is wickedly mind-bending, and the hook-friendly guitar stomps will having you nodding your head along to frontman HW Monks’ growls and grunts (which sound like someone who just gargled with gasoline.) When you consider the entire band is only made up of four members (a rarity these days), you can’t help but be further impressed with the throat-stomping vibe these Australians put out.

It’s far from pretty and perfect, but it has the necessary components to make it a great rock album. It bites like an alligator wrapped in barbed wire, but leaves you with a memorable, soulful echo long after listening to it. Not your normal shot of whiskey around here, but definitely one worth knocking back.

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Turns Out You’re Not a Cowgirl After All
2. Deadrie Fell’s Dog Park Blues
3. Future Wolf and the Gay Parisian Milk Incident
4. House Fire in the Origami District
5. And Lo! She Beheld the Pale Surgeon
6. The Black Tooth Supper Club
7. My First Wife? She Was a Fox Queen!
8. Soliloquy from Ether Station
9. Skyship of the Contrabandistor

MySpace: Link | Buy at Amazon: Here

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