Review Summary: Well-rounded jazz-punk
I signed up for Frippertronics review game after thinking someone should do the Melt-banana album Charlie. In exchange I got a band called Acoustic Ladyland and their album Living With a Tiger. I'm going to be honest, I had very low expectations. I incorrectly prejudged them based on the band name, artwork and album title. I pictured some bull*** sissy indie-pop garbage. Oh, how wrong I was.
What I got coming out of my speakers was positively jazz-punk sounding! I was ecstatic. I was getting fast punk beats with melodic saxophone and distorted bass! The first song, "Sport Mode", does sort of sound like an arena football anthem. It's the most accessible song on the album so it serves well as an opener. The first thing most people will notice about Acoustic Ladyland is their tenor sax player. The chorus of "Sport Mode" is very blissful and joyous sounding. The sax is playing a nice major-key victory riff. It sounds like you are winning.
However, you mustn't get too used to this feeling. A lot of this album is very dark and very ***ed up. "Not So" has a claustrophobic feel to it. There is a anxious quality to it as a relentless Minor Threat beat plays over tight metallic riffing and wailing sax. The first half of the album is the more accessible and listenable side (albeit still pretty crazy) and the second half gets the more nasty and gnarly experimental stuff. "The Mighty Q" stands alone on the record as it falls into every camp while still being dissimilar overall to the rest of the album.
"The Mighty Q" has a very hypnotic three-note guitar line and the tempo drops considerably. This might be the best track on the album as they reached a certain magic not found on the rest of the record. The sax plays a more "soulful" line then most of the bombast it usually plays. The next track "Worry" is also in the slower side but doesn't have the same minor-key tonality and psychedelic quality the Q does.
Another thing about this record is it is a jazz-punk record but isn't very jazz or punk. It's like a Venn diagram but then creates its very own bubble. It's fast like punk, it's got sax like jazz, but other than that what else does it have in common with those genres? Not much. It's mostly just a kickass rock and roll band who replaced their singer with a saxophonist. Thank goodness there isn't a vocalist to ruin the sound of the band.
I love horny music. Not "bow-chicka-bow-wow" horny but like music with horns in it. They don't need a vocalist to fill up the songs with melody because the sax comes up with plenty of catchy and infectious melodies. Sometimes it sounds a little high in the mix and it's hard to make out some of the guitar lines. However, it never blares too annoyingly and mostly pushes the songs up into the stratosphere.
The guitarist plays some really ***ed up solos that don't even play in the same key the song is in. This is awesome and keeps the album from being too safe. That's the thing with this record: it can border on noise music at times and other times sound like nice little tunes, but never straying too far in either direction. It rides a fine line between melody and noise while still rocking the *** out.
Listen to the absolutely disgusting guitar solo in "Gratitude." That thing is just nasty! It's moments like these that keep the record on your toes. It pulls a lot of punches but doesn't stray too far from the actual song. There are some drugged-out passages but it doesn't get too prog-rock or anything.
Overall I'm very glad I gave this record a chance. It's catchy, noisy, melodic, and has a really tight rhythm section. I'm glad to add this to my collection and it should have a spot in any music lovers library.