The Hustle Is On


MIA / Tee Pee Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


What would happen if stoner rock took a sharp left and started to explore some jazz veins?

I don't know if Core could strictly be called a stoner rock band (though you could make a good argument based on the thing -- what the hell is that, a vulture? -- with the bong on the CD itself). But where they separate themselves from the rest of their brethren on their CD The Hustle Is On is they're not afraid to break the mold and throw some progressive riffs in to expand their musical horizons. Too bad they didn't have more moments like this; this disc isn't bad, just not one to get excited over.

The band -- guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan, bassist Carmine Pernini and drummer Tim Ryan -- start out sounding like a band poised to follow the latest musical trend. The tone of the guitar and bass all seem to point right towards stoner rock -- these days, not necessarily a good sign in my book. Early on, while the band shows they're musically sound, there's not a lot in tracks like "The Monolith Problem," "Supernumber" or "Fleetwood" to suggest anything different.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Things start to turn in Core's direction on the interlude "No. 5 In A Series," which hints that Core might be a better band than some of the material suggests. That trend is continued on "Vacuum Life," easily the best song on the album.

And I will admit, I did like the throwback to the Grateful Dead's "Estimated Prophet" on "Blues For Gus" to "officially" close out the album. (More on that comment in a minute.) It was interesting to hear the guitar lick become an intregal part of Core's song, though you'd be wrong if you called it plagiarism. If anything, the lick brings out the real song, and makes things nice and happy.

Unfortunately, the bulk of the second half of The Hustle Is On, while listenable and somewhat enjoyable, is also forgettable. Tracks like "Skinny Legs And All" and "Edge City" don't have a lot to them that would make them lodge in your mind. Pity.

To Core's credit, they utilize the concept of the "hidden" track correctly. Within seconds after the last listed track fades out, the band kicks into an instrumental jam that is more jazz than rock -- and is fun to listen to.

So what could Core do differently the next time around? Seeing how well a jazz lick like that from "Estimated Prophet" worked in their music, they might choose to move closer towards a marriage of jazz and harder-edged rock. It will work, so long as the material and the performances are equally strong -- and I'll be the first one at the side of the stage to congratulate them if they were to try this and succeed.

Until then, The Hustle Is On is an average album containing moments that are above the average stoner rock offerings. It's worth checking out, but approach it with some caution.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 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 MIA / Tee Pee Records, and is used for informational purposes only.