Groove Family Cyco

Infectious Grooves

550 Music/Epic, 1994

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


By the time of their third record, Infectious Grooves (the long-running side project of Suicidal Tendencies’ vocalist Mike Muir and bassist Robert Trujillo) decided a change of pace was necessary. The most obvious omission on this album was the lack of humor that had been found on their previous releases. Band mascot Sarsippius is nowhere to be found on the whole release, which must have been a bit disheartening to longtime Infectious fans. For first-time listeners such as myself, it didn’t matter. Instead, what we got was a very heavy record, more influenced by Suicidal than by funk.

The band was bolstered by a new full-time drummer, Brooks Wackerman (who at the time was only 16 years old), which helped solidify and strengthen their sound. With Brooks fitting in the rhythm pocket alongside Trujillo, it gave the band one of the greatest rhythm sections ever found on a rock record. That sound is evident from the first track, “Violent & Funky,” which kicks off with a nice bass intro courtesy of Trujillo before guitarists Adam Siegel and Dean Pleasants bring the groove to the forefront. Strangely, the curse words on this track are edited, something that wasn’t done with the rest of the record.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The rapid-fire attack of “Boom Boom Boom” shows the band has moved past their melodic prime and is going for a full-on metallic assault. It’s very refreshing on the ears because they sound better and more straightforward on this disc. Their previous records were very scattershot and all over the place, but on Groove Family Cyco, everything seems more concise and planned out.

Siegel and Pleasants’ guitars are all over the record, particularly on tracks like “Frustrated Again,” where they take center stage over Trujillo’s omnipresent, masterful bass work. With the dynamic back and forth between the guitars, one can’t help but think of Suicidal Tendencies and their dual guitar attack. The best track here, “Rules Go Out The Window,” has some of the best guitar playing on the whole record; the whole band becomes one here and it enables Muir to come across the clearest without having to sugarcoat: if you’ve got a problem with them, then it’s going down!

The title track is where Muir lets his new alter ego, Cyco Miko, take over with full control. The track is good but it feels a bit cartoonish and consequently, it feels out of place with the rest of the material here. “Die Lika Pig” is a bit subtler in its intent than, say, “Cop Killer,” but the sentiment is exactly the same. “Do What I Tell Ya!” is the centerpiece of the record with lyrics that take very pointed shots at the hypocrisy of Rage Against The Machine. The dynamic rhythm machine that is Trujillo and Wackerman takes center stage here and never lets up. As the album begins to wind down, however, that’s when the weaknesses come out: “Cousin Randy,” written about one of Muir’s relatives, is a tale of a schizophrenic with deep-seated emotional issues. The track is great until the last minute, where Muir begins a spoken-word speech about how messed up Cousin Randy was. Muir did this sort of thing on Suicidal Tendencies records as well and it never worked anywhere – and twenty years later, it still doesn’t work.

“Why” is the weakest track and doesn’t work in any sense or context at all. The finale “Made It” begins with the band attempting doo-wop harmonies before it progresses into a full-on Infectious track. It’s good enough, but it just isn’t as strong as the other songs here. In essence, the band tried to make a different record and mostly succeeded, but the fans will always remember them for their earlier years.

Rating: B

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