The self-titled album Chickenpox Party by Chickenpox Party is a crunchy rock album of southern blues a la Gov’t Mule combined with some of the northern influence of Jack White.
After a sketch involving a children’s birthday clown over a cacophony of birthday horns and saloon-y piano, “Dumbentia” enters with Black Crowes-ish blues rock. Keeping with a mostly traditional blues format, the instrumental song has some nice builds and some great tone to the guitar. “In The Woods” continues the roots-y/bluesy feel with a long build on a catchy stomp riff. After a few verses and choruses in a pop/blues format, the song opens up into wah-wahed glory evoking some Allman Brothers breakdowns. The stacks of buzzy guitars each sit well within the sonic atmosphere that is created, each of them driving but never overwhelming.
“Fair Weathered Friends” opens around a thin sounding organ, guitar arpeggios and spoken-words by children before moving to a Jack White-esque sneaky blues riff with distorted vocals. The guitar solo is absolutely stunning with some Zappa-ish runs and squeals that builds and explodes. “Ill Deliberation” includes more metal influences a la Queens Of The Stone Age with fuzzed out guitars in the chorus and acoustic-y sounds in the verse over sixteenth note hi-hat. It’s an interesting contrast from the rest of the song, but some of the tempo shifts between the A and B sections of the song hit a little awkwardly losing some of the groove. Still, there’s some great early Nirvana influence in the chorus, and almost a Tom Sawyer quote in the solo, which is much appreciated.
“Just The Same” opens with some explosive drumming rocking a great tom pattern before a funky guitar enters. The riff is extremely catchy and punctuated nicely by some additional guitar accents. The drums are fantastic throughout, slightly varying each section with some double kick and hi-hat splashes all while supporting the in-your-face guitar tone, which leads without abandon. “Long Way Back” continues a variation of the previous songs riff before slowing down suddenly with some Alex Lifeson guitar tones thrown in. By the time the vocals enter, its pure Jack White in the vocal inflections. The tempo shifts are a bit abrupt which can be a bit disconcerting, but the confidence in the playing helps drive through some of those moments. “Blues For Jesus” starts out more metal-ish with some harmonized guitars running through an Arabian-ish scale before moving to a minor blues form. The texture of the guitars is thick making for a great rocker. The syncopation between the drums and guitar is well executed.
There is a cover of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” as viewed through the lens of Stevie Ray Vaughn. The instrumental portion of the song is really expressive, finding some wonderful moments to riff on, vary and have some excellent bluesy melodic lines. “One More Nail” combines the foley of hammering an actual nail and some spoken word by a child over a funky southern blues riff. The aggressive guitar hits punctuate the chorus well and the slide guitar interludes add some nice accents between the vocal.
The only real “miss” on the album is “Mamacita,” which is based around jazzy chords and a double-time drum-and-bass rim click pattern on the drums. Again, the contrast from the rest of the album is very interesting and there are some great melodic runs, but there is some shaky timing between the drums and guitars that takes away from some of the momentum of what would otherwise be a wonderful Les Paul-ish interlude.
The album closes with “So Long” a culmination of all of the influences that appeared before and ending on the birthday horns from the original sketch. Overall, this is a well-executed and great rock album with some odd curiosities along the way.
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