Dead Nuggets Dish

Botswana At Night Records, 1997


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Any time I review something by an independent band, I always try to turn my sarcasm knob down as low as it will go and attempt to find at least one redeeming factor in what I listen to. This isn't to say that I expect these albums to be bad, it's just that I try to be less critical of the fruits of their labors than I would be of a signed band.

However, in the case of Chicago's Dead Nuggets Dish, the only positive thing I can say about their 1997 album Lotushead is this: It's short. Even so, this attempt to merge the funkiness of the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a slightly progressive/alternative rock beat fails, making this disc a challenge to get through.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The hardest thing to cut through on this album was the hiccup-funk vocals by Kite Mosam, a combination that works about as well as Seagram's and Dr. Pepper. (Trust me, I tried it once; it was like drinking motor oil.) Mosam should hopefully realize by now that his Anthony Kiedis-meets-Elvis schtick just doesn't work, and when the music does hold out signs of promise, the vocals really bring the ship down. For God's sake, sing straight, not in a freaking funk hiccup! Even when Kiedis does it too much, it bugs me.

Even there, the music's not perfect. At times, guitarist Rob Caya, bassist Troy Gourley and drummer Dave Baboorian seem to have an interesting hook crafted ("Drive-Bys Of The Day," "Degas (Little Ballerinas)"), but they then go into the reaches of psychedelic weirdness that even Roky Erickson would have said was too much. "Proportionally Distorted (Preaches)" is the musical equivalent to a bad drug trip; once you've experienced it, you never want to go through that nightmare again.

Another problem with Lotushead is that the lyrics try to err on the side of Jim Morrison - that is, be artistic without making one lick of sense. Check out the title track for a sample: "Damn Ulysses, your [sic] lost again / Don't think your [sic] gonna hang out here / Mooching off my friends." Likewise, "Lottery Town" reads like a bad poem. However, other tracks like "Who Hired The Clown?" (a tale about executed mass-murderer John Wayne Gacy) make sense once you read the lyric sheet. Too bad that Mosam's vocals make most of the album a feat like translating the Rosetta Stone.

Dead Nuggets Dish shows some faint sparks of breaking out of the locals circuit, but as Lotushead is evidence of, they need to do a lot of work on their songwriting and diction - and they may do well to lay off the cosmic influences as well. After all, not all of us have read Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery".

Rating: D

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