Lost Songs Of Doc Souchon

Squirrel Nut Zippers

Southern Broadcasting, 2020


REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


Jim Mathus is at it again. Two years after the last abomination of a Squirrel Nut Zippers record, Mathus, the reconstituted band is trying yet again. From the opening track, “Animule Ball,” it sounds like you’re listening to a relic of the past and not something new tinged with a nod and a wink to the past. Maybe he’s trying to not sound too much like Pink Martini, but it’s not working.

When the cover of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” began, I almost threw my hands up in disgust. If anything, since Mathus has a new female singer, why not use her instead of trying to vamp your own way through it and coming off too desperate to be taken seriously? “Remember me? I was notable in the ‘90s. Well, I’m back with my band of hired guns. Please like and share if you dig what you hear.” Pathetic.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I had a feeling going into this record that I probably wasn’t going to like it because I hated the last one so much but, Jesus, Mathus let it go. You can’t write songs anymore and when you do, they’re more of a showcase for the musicians than yourself. “She’s Ballin’?” Come on, we all know you’re better than this. The musicians sound tight, though, so there’s something.

Despite Mathus’ sometimes pained vocals, “Train On Fire” is actually a decently good track. It’s very moody and eerie and unlike anything else on the record. No wonder, because longtime band stalwart Andrew Bird is on hand to help out and just his appearance alone makes the song more majestic. Hallelujah, the record has one saving grace. But when the bandleader has only three compositions on a ten-track album and the rest are old covers, you know things are dire. A song like “I Talk To My Haircut” wouldn’t have even made the grade on their ‘90s records but yet here we are. The seven minute “Purim Nigrim” is an instrumental and not even a great one at that. It’s literally here to pad out the running time. Mathus needs to retreat back to his nascent solo career and then maybe he won’t have to deal with putting out consistently bad records like these last two.

In the end, it’s not as completely terrible as the last disc, but you can try and make your 2020 just a bit better by skipping this.

Rating: D

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