Groove The Nation


Freedom Zone Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Here's a question for you: what would happen if Phish ever dared to dabble in the world of hip-hop?

I'll pause now while the Phishheads write their flame mails.

Okay, relax. It's not meant as an insult. But listening to Chola's debut release Groove The Nation, it's hard not to occasionally draw comparisons between Phish and this Salt Lake City-based quartet. It's hip, it's funky, it's loose... and, most importantly, it's a whole lotta fun.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band - vocalist/guitarist Justin Johnson, bass guitarist John Maxwell, percussionist Kevin Blanchard and vocalist/drummer David Alexander - is a unique mixture of funk, hip-hop and rock, transcending all boundaries that people might want to build around these styles of music and creating something that can only be called "Chola".

Listen to songs like "Shakemachine," Phishheads, and tell me you can't somehow picture Trey Anastasio possibly sitting in with the band and delivering this vocal. It's meant as a high compliment to both bands, and Chola instantly win over the listener with songs like this, as well as "Swinger," "User Friendly" and "Starsky '98".

What's special about Chola is that they're not trying to be the next Red Hot Chili Peppers, or the next Phish, or even the next Digital Underground. Instead, they're focused on just creating music for the sheer fun of it - and the fun they're having is heard on tracks like "Uh-Uh," "Scrub You" and "We're All Waiting". Even the bonus track, an acoustical version of "Uh-Uh" apparently recorded at a radio station appearance, reflects this "devil-may-care" attitude. It's infectious, and it's hard not to get caught up in it.

Groove The Nation is also an interesting release in that the label it's been released on, Freedom Zone, is giving away the first million copies of the disc; all the purchaser has to pay for is shipping. We're talking an investment of two dollars for this album, then - and, believe me, this disc is worth it no matter what the price tag is.

No matter what your favorite form of music is, Groove The Nation is sure to get your foot tapping and will place a smile on your face. Let the Chola outbreak spread!

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Freedom Zone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.