Squirrel Nut Zippers
Maybe their crazy successes from last summer have burned them out. Things can never be the same after playing on CBS’ (Dick Clark’s???) “New Years Eve” concert from Las Vegas. I don’t know what happened exactly, but there’s something missing from this album that sadly makes it the worst of the three they’ve put out to date.
Perennial Favorites starts off with a foot tapin’ slamming swinging ditty, “Suits Are Picking Up the Bill,” but from that moment on the album goes nowhere new. We get a sampling of sounds that are very similar to their previously released material. It’s not that this is a bad album, but it just doesn’t really do anything or go anywhere.
“Ghost of Stephen Foster” annoys the hell out of me, with its played-out “Volga Boatmen” sound that a gazillion swing bands are putting on their albums — not to mention embarassing lyrics. “Trou Macaq” sounds very similar to “Hell,” only slower. The phrasing, shouting, quasi-mambo beat, and overall feel is so close to “Hell” that no one will pass up the sorry-assed replicated resemblance.
Cuts like “Fat Cat,” “Evening At Lafitte’s,” “Pallin’ With Al,” and “That Fascinating Thing” are all pretty poppy [even some straight] jazz, yet they don’t live up to the fine high quality Squirrel Nut sound that I’m accustomed to.
“The Kraken” is one of the most original pieces on the album, with an Esquivel-arranged edge… however, it becomes tiresome after a while, and will turn your stomach faster than chili dogs at a white trash carnival with its ascending and descending horns and quirky percussion.
I think they need a break, `cause this album, although it is not bad, it is not new. Know what I’m saying? What set this band apart from all the other annoying-assed swing bands out there was their authentically original sound. They had a masterfully crafted lounge/mambo/grass roots/juke jointin’ jazz/swing flare that is watered down on this album. Mammoth Records, 101 B St, Carrboro, NC 27510-1834; http://www.mammoth.com/