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Rhett May - Calcutta Boy

Calcutta Boy

Rhett May

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

The first cut of this 4-track EP almost had me yanking the disc and frisbeeing it across the room: unrelieved banality, cliché lyrics, wooden beats, bedroom production, thin atmosphere, amateur singing…what didn't it lack? Then the second cut, African Queen, emerged with a weird vocorded ultra-falsetto set of vocals amid an ambience seemingly a satire on the form, and I cancelled the first impulse. The track was intriguing, unorthodox, sufficiently melodic, and, well, just strange—an attribute I can often make room for.

The bizarre atmosphere carried to the next cut, and I was still tickled. The simplistic progressions became indispensible to the format, almost mocking (Ramones-wise), in a formulaic convention turning itself on its own head. I really don't think this was purposeful (and there are any number of mistakes in several places), but it works, almost an example of the kind of "incorrect music" Irwin Chusid memorializes, but not quite. The baseline is pop-rock but the effect is almost cabaretic.

I'm really at a loss whether to recommend this release or not. There's a genuine kitschiness present that's puzzlingly compelling (except for that hideous first tune), cut with a throwback to the old OP days of DIY and everything itchy that implies. By the time Mirror Mirror winds things down here, though, May has managed to integrate all that came before, resulting in a strangely satisfying high-amateur denouement. Hell if I know how to look at it, though. Chalk it up to inspired mediocrity.

Track List:

  • There's a Litte White Powder
  • African Queen
  • Have Your Arms Been Missing Me
  • Mirror Mirror
All songs written by Rhett May.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 

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