September 1st, 2010
Title: Suspicious Package
Artist: Earl Greyhound
Label: Hawk Race Records
Formats: CD, MP3
Release Date: April 13, 2010
Because of Earl Greyhound’s clearly defined mission of keeping their music as authentic and nebulous as possible, capturing a description of their overall sound in writing is a challenge to say the least. With Ricc Sheridan stepping in to fill the shoes of former percussionist Chris Bear, the trio has just released Suspicious Package, an album that offers up a mix of psychedelic rock, grunge, and dark pop infused with a plethora of other music styles and carefully wrought poetry.
In an AAAMC interview with Thomas on November 1, 2009, Thomas explained her reasons for resisting efforts to pigeonhole the band’s music:
The minute we start to put these boundaries on music, it negates some part of what that music is, and I’m just really interested in as limitless an expression as possible and keeping my eyes on that kind of limitlessness so that it is like anything could happen, like we’re on a blank canvas, like I’m just one point of consciousness moving out into this great unknown, and what is going to happen?
Due to Earl Greyhound’s higher artistic goals, you may not walk away humming your favorite song or reciting your favorite lyrics after the first play, but the CD grows progressively more interesting with repeated listening.
The first two tracks, “The Eyes of Cassandra” parts I and II, give a good sense of the band’s musical versatility. The opening chords on synthesizer are vaguely reminiscent of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies (albeit slightly funkier) while Thomas’ vocals bring in a somber, ethereal quality akin to that of the haunting theme song from Pan’s Labyrinth—definitely an atypical beginning for an album pitched as a “blistering rock inferno.” In part II, the band flips the musical aesthetic on its head, shifting to a Brazilian beat with psychedelic rock vocals over a grunge rock bass line. The rest of the CD has plenty of hard rock, but there’s always an interesting surprise thrown in the mix whether it’s the Brazilian Afoxé rhythm played on agogo bells during the instrumental break in “Oye Vaya” or the “Thriller” style narration at the beginning of “Ghost and the Witness.”
As an added bonus, Thomas is an excellent song writer. Although her lyrics are often a bit cryptic (not surprising from someone who revels in the writing of Carlos Castaneda and the teachings of Yaqui shamanist Don Juan Matus), she comes down to earth on the final three tracks. All three pieces are slower songs predominantly featuring vocals over acoustic instruments with light synths and percussion, allowing Thomas’ poetic skills and ability to capture more complicated human emotions to shine through.
“Shotgun” music video, courtesy of Earl Greyhound:
If you’re tired of the standard rock dross on the radio, definitely give Suspicious Package a try. It’s sure to broaden your musical horizons.
Reviewed by Ronda L. Sewald
Editor’s note: Kamara Thomas was one of the participants in the AAAMC’s 2009 conference, Reclaiming the Right to Rock: Black Experiences in Rock Music. To learn more about Thomas one-on-one interview for the conference or about other materials in the collection, contact our staff.
Review Genre(s): Popular, Rock, and Misc.