Bands from Burlington, VT dwell in the shadow of Phish, Vermont's most famous exports, outside of Ben And Jerry's. What is it about hippies that raise so much scorn? How can so many people love lengthy, extended grooves, while so many others will run you out of town with pitchfork and torches at the slightest defense? Binger doesn’t describe themselves as hippies, preferring "couch-surf prog band.” This reveals one of the common misconceptions of the last 30 years of jam band music with the clueless assuming that everyone just sounds like the reincarnation of the Grateful Dead. Binger has not the slightest similarities to the Dead, except for the occasional saxophone flourishes and extended song structures. Since the early '80s, jam bands have been incorporating college and guitar-centric indie rock, world music from all over, and the instrumental mastery of prog and jazz. It's the same way that Phish owes more to Frank Zappa or the Beastie Boys than the Dead.
Roots In The Rabbit Hole features all that is great and some that is not so great about the world of semi-improvised, technical rock n’ roll. First and foremost, this band can play! Braden Winslow is a shredder, that's for sure, with those high, cresting triumphant breaks that we all know and love, reflecting that moment in a concert where everyone comes together and loses their shit. The band plays comfortably in all manner of unique grooves, far removed from the world of white-bred disco backbeats. Binger occupies a rhythmical realm, somewhere between the Ivory Coast of Africa and the art schools of England. Funky, punky, deft and swinging, creating a solid seat from Shakir Stephen's rather exceptional bass playing.
Roots In The Rabbit Hole shows off some of the pitfalls of Vermont rock, as well but not too much, thankfully. There's a moment of ill-advised singsong rapping on "Crow King" and the often-questionable presence of a horn section. Thankfully, the world seems to have learned much in the 20 years since Phish's Hoist was released, as the horns on "Crow Song" sound more like a legit soul or afrobeat band than the bloated Clapton B-side pomposity of Hoist. Binger isn't merely appropriating music and stitching it to their own. They seem to legitimately understand and love music from all over and are truly multi-cultural, which is inspiring and awesome to see.
Binger seem like a band coming out of a real scene, like they have a solid following and a worked out live show and they are parting the curtains to give us a glimpse. Roots In The Rabbit Hole is a party and you're invited.
Roots In The RabbitHole shows many of the recent revisions to the jam band sound, since the turn of the century. There are moments of dark unsettling electronics ("Sequoia 2"), funkiness, funniness and soulfulness. Hopefully some will hear this and reevaluate the genre. It's more adventurous and technically proficient than your typical pop music, and raises the bar of inspiration.
For all the bedroom shredders, the jazz cognoscenti, the rappers, the burnouts; the people that can't fit in in any particular place, Binger is a port in the storm. A place where we can all come together, and learn about one another. And most importantly, dance.
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