I remember discovering Primus about twenty years ago and I didn’t know that the bass could be played like that. It’s far and between that the bass is up front and center within a song and even less common to hear much slap bass. Squimley and the Woolens is one of those bands where the bass is such a prominent feature that the songs simply wouldn’t be close to what they are without it.
On their latest release No Shame in the Cow Community, the four piece band comprised of Nick Ledak (guitar), Braden Lalancette (bass), Lincoln Frasca (drums) and Charlie McKenna (vocals/keyboards) have too much pop structure in their songs to be considered a straight up jam band but not exactly what you would call pop either.
They are a bit jazz noir, funky, slightly experimental - throw in some rock, improvisation and a dash of good vibes and you get Squimley and the Woolens. I dig it. They aren’t completely appeasing to one demographic although I’m inclined to think drunken space hippies would be the first to line up at their live shows.
The band kicks off with one of the most “jam band-esque” type songs. McKenna sounds laid back as if he is singing a reggae song. It works. The guitars are clean and groovy while the bass comes at you slappified. “Rainsong” and “The River” are solid songs that offer a bit of variation but the first deviation comes five deep in the form of “Face Ripper.” They sound like a combination of a breakdown section from a Primus song and the vocal harmonies from Liars (yes the punk/experiment three-piece). As the song progresses it unexpectedly goes into reggae part. What?!
The band continues to display some diversity. “Dead Squash Blues” is slick, mysterious and contains some solid vocals while “Jameson Leo” pulls off impressive timing transitions.
No Shame in the Cow Community is a step up from their prior release 10,000 Fire Jellyfish. Oddly enough, I have a feeling their best work is ahead of them if they continue on this trajectory. If they can lose about 15% of the typical jam band tropes and replace it with an unexpected original fusion of sounds the band will have carved themselves out their own niche.
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