This talented Missoula five-piece has released a doozy of a first album, all original numbers. The members are co-songwriters Ruth Dada, vocals, and Chris DuParri, guitar, lap steel and vocals; Ben Schuberg, keys/synthesizers, trumpet, and flute; Tal Slaughter, fretless bass; and Matt Mischke, vocals, drums/percussion, and vocals.
They’ve all performed around the Missoula music scene for the last decade in one band or another, and got together in 2012 to meld influences that include Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Bonobo, Nirvana, Portishead, and many more. Their “danceable funk” comprises genres like R&B, rock, jazz, classical, and oldies, too.
“Breeze” has an effervescing bass and a raucous, syncopated drum beat. Dada enters with her sweet voice, reminiscent of Natalie Merchant but way more powerful. She sings the lyric in bit of a Jamaican accent while the synth emanates bell-like sounds.
“Goblins” is spooky with a creeping bass line. Dada and DuParri share unison lead and dissonant duet harmony, with the lyrics streaming out. Presently, studio magic introduces gremlins jabbering over the percolating instrumental. Cool!
Sweet piano chords and a soft, magnetizing rhythm underlie Dada’s vocal on “Little Heart”; and “Sneaky Little Sister” is a rocker with an ominous motif. The down-and-dirty guitar riffs and crisp drums steamroll it throughout; then comes the duet a cappella vocal by Dada and DuParri, a bit frightening: “hounds they’re barking, law with guns held high, sneaky little sister don’t you let me die …” That’s followed by a quiet Miles Davis-esque instrumental interlude that fades out. Now that’s ambience!
“Opus” is 54 seconds of rapid-fire piano arpeggios that fade to a music-box riff, then straightaway, the piece segues into “Solution.” Seamless.
Terrific musicianship and production make this album cook. Visit www.locksawcartel.com.
– Mariss McTucker
Recorded, engineered, and produced by Richard McIntosh in Missoula, MT, at The University of Montana, the Locksaw Cartel studio, Club Schmed Studios, and McIntosh’s Idiyuts World Studio, 2014.