As the saying goes, “breaking up is hard to do.” And back in 2012 the Philadelphia band The Disgruntled Sherpa Project, that may have been actually disgruntled, broke up. Then the band reformed two years later and went directly to the studio to write and record Blessed Geography. Fast-forward to now and the band whose lineup consists of Joe Boylan (rhythm guitar/slide guitar/banjo/harmonica/organ/keyboard/vocals), Walt Mamaluy (bass/ percussion/ vocals, Reginald DeJesus (lead guitar/vocals), John Vasudevan (drums/congas/ shakers/tambourine) and Matt Jules Rhine (piano/keyboards/vocals) has released High Tides and Muddy Waters a much harder edged and rugged record than anything they’ve done in their lengthy career.
The Disgruntled Sherpa Project returned to the familiar environs of Red Planet Studio to record this record in one long ten hour session in the studio’s live room. It’s an amazing feat, to me at least, because after spending just a few hours straight with any one person I am ready for some alone time. But that’s not the case here as the boys sound as together as ever bringing bright and electric rock songs with the old familiar down and out lyricism they’re known for and have made a record that encapsulates what it’s like to be a person living in today’s world.
The opening track “One Foot in the Grave” is a rambling rocker full of dead pan lyrics, “I took so many drugs that I should be dead” and “I was drinking in a bar with a midget / He said man you've had enough I think you should quit.” This rolls into the banjo and fuzzy guitar fueled sing-along “Your Heroes Are All Dead And We're The Ones Who Killed Them” which also sees the rest of the band chiming in perfectly hitting all the marks and checking all the boxes which is the real power behind the project.
Later we see more of this as the band, acting as a brute force of musical nature, ramps it up on tunes like the nuanced rocker “Everybody Leaves” which builds to a fierce fugue and then winds down to end quietly. The live aspects of these recordings only adds to the fact that these guys know when to step in and step out. And when they are focused on being “one” as a band they can churn out some pretty punchy and awesome tunes like “The Beekeeper and the Elephant” and the one hell of a good time that is “All is Happiness.”
As a title High Tides and Muddy Waters may conjure images of doom and destruction but the record’s feeling is just the opposite. It is the result of band members weaving their respective instruments in and out of one another in a small space and ending up with a tapestry of songs which will leave listeners moved.
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