Beasts Of Burgundy

Squirrel Nut Zippers

Southern Broadcasting Records, 2018

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


I have a deep connection to this band. They were my first concert in 2001 and singer/songwriter Tom Maxwell was one of the first musicians I ever interviewed. Not to mention, “Hell” is still a great song all these years later. Nowadays, Squirrel Nut Zippers is now comprised by singer/songwriter/guitarist Jim Mathus and a completely different lineup than the musicians that made hits like “Hell.” Instrumentalists/singers Maxwell, Ken Mosher and Katharine Whalen are nowhere to be found, and this record is severely lacking as a result. I tried to like it, but it just feels like an utter sham now. This band should not be considered in the same league as the original Zippers. It feels more like Mathus continuing his oddball solo career and trying to sully the Zippers’ classic heritage.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first single “Karnival Joe (From Kokomo)” begins feeling like an early band B-side with lots of horns and banjos, but then the shrill voice of the band’s newest female singer comes in and sounds like your mom interrupting your kegger; it’s akin to a needle skipping across a record. Katharine Whalen was a Billie Holiday sort of vocalist. In contrast, I don’t know how the hell you would describe this one, other than terrible. It just ruins the track completely.

The title cut isn’t bad and has a weird vibe that I liked, but then there’s a song like “Hey Shango!” where the band tries to go African and it falls flat on its face. This isn’t the band I liked as a kid; this is a musician trying to hold on for his artistic life and failing badly in the process.

I don’t know what the hell “Rusty Trombone” is but it’s awful, just awful. When the new female singer emerges on “Use What Mama Gave You” and “Fade,” you really wish for Ms. Whalen and her dynamism. Man, this ‘band’ is just trying to swim in the leftovers of what the Zippers reinvented in the ’90s.

Ultimately, the only thing that really needs to be said about this record is this: When your record has three instrumentalists and you’re not a prog metal band, then it’s time to throw in the towel once and for all.

Rating: F

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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