Breaking up can be heard on a band. Reuniting can be even harder. While trying to ease tensions that lead to a break up in the first place, a group can end up struggling with a direction to go into artistically.
This seems to be the case with The Disgruntled Sherpa Project, a Philadelphia indie band that first formed in 2002 and has released nine full-length albums over the last decade. The indie quintet consists of Joe Boylan (guitar), Walt Mamaluy (bass), Reginald Dejesus (guitar), John Vasudevan (drums) and Matt Jules Rhine (piano, keyboards, horns).
The Disgruntled Sherpa Project broke up in 2012 but then reunited in the summer of 2014 to write and a record a new album at Red Planet Sound in Clifton Heights, PA, which was mixed and mastered by sound engineer Joe Smiley.
The new album Blessed Geography was released in late April of this year by the seemingly non-existent record label Neither Tenzing Norgay. Much of this album seems to be an attempt by The Disgruntled Sherpa Project to return to their musical roots. It would certainly make sense as to why many of the songs on Blessed Geography sound like the low rent, pop grunge of Puddle of Mudd that was commonplace on the charts during the band’s inception in the early 2000s.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to do The Disgruntled Sherpa project many favors and leads to some songs, such as “Life is Hard” and “So, Most Likely” being duds that should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. Despite the duds on this album, that is not to say that there aren’t a number of decent tracks. “When Johnny Was a Crowe” has a nice southern rock sound and has a title that is no doubt a nod to 1990s alt-country blues heroes, The Black Crowes.
“Carnival Barker” is a folky love song with strange lyrics about a carnival barker, a relic of the early 20th century who would shout at patrons to attract attention to a carnival. If you don’t mind nonsensical lyrics “Winnipeg” features a decent solo and tremolo-effect laced guitars. Two tracks that stand out on this album are “Patsy’s 62nd”, a minute-long instrumental, that brings an end to the album with a ukulele, jangly acoustic guitar and French horn and “Florida”, a Lyrnrd Skyrnrd homage that could easily become the sunshine state’s new anthem.
Overall, Blessed Geography is not a musical masterpiece for The Disgruntled Sherpa project but has its moments. It shows a band transitioning from being broken up to trying to dust themselves off and regroup. Hopefully, once they get their sea legs together, their next album will improve on the solid foundation they formed.
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