By Ohad Amram, Staff Writer
In today's vibrant music scene, it's honestly a challenge to appeal to most anybody let alone appeal to a certain demographic and maintain said success over the period of nearly two decades. In fact very few bands of today have. These bands include Radiohead, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, among few others. A band among these two that had proven itself to outstand the test of time is Lambchop.
Formally known as Posterchild, the Nashville, Tennessee based band takes a less formal, but rather unorthodox approach to making music. Since the band's formation in 1986, the band has endured countless different lineup's as it has seen nearly 20 different band members, despite maintaining their front man, Kurt Wagner, whose remained singer/songwriter for the group since their start.
Lambchop's band history in studio albums traces back to 1994, when the band released their debut LP "I Hope You're Sitting Down/ Jack's Tulips." Now , almost two decades and ten studio albums later, Lambchop have released their eleventh full length studio album entitled "Mr.M" and despite it's early year release in February of this year, the album may potentially be among the very best to be released in 2011. It is most certainly the most well thought out and creative of any Lambchop release to date. The maturity and elegance encompassed within the music, spewing from the Wagner's thought-provoking lyricism, is sure to put its listener at ease. The genre of "Mr.M" is not necessarily the genre usual genre of Lambchop, in the sense that the band, over the course of their entire eleven full length studio albums has prided themselves on the fact that they don't necessarily remain with one set genre when they write the music, hence the immense changes in band lineup. "You just have to accept that things are going to change," Wagner states in discussing the bands constant new lineups, "they're going to build as you go along, it's something that we've always done, is had a lot of members and a lot of sounds and hopefully we're getting better and better at it," says Wagner, in anticipation for success on behalf of future music.
As for the respective genre of their latest album, the music has been deemed by many to be alternative country; however, "Mr. M" takes a very beautiful lounge music edge on standard bar-room music. Certain elements of songs such as "2B2" put its listener at the stool of a bar or at least what one may envision would be the standard background music of any bar scene from any film. With that said, "Mr. M" houses an array of fantastic instruments and incredible cohesive work that fully embody music in an altogether rare form. "Mr. M" opens with song "If Not, I'll Just Die" which could easily be one of the most memorable songs on the album, due to its enticing orchestra filled introduction. Within the first 15 seconds of the album, the orchestra allows the listener to grow nostalgic of an incredible scene of a movie, perhaps from the likings of Scorcese, because they are that of a profound film score. Succeeding the orchestra, the music is accompanied by jazz procession, consisting of brushers on snare. The album as a whole really defines who the band has come to be over the past 20 years and how Lambchop is an honest reflection of Nashville. Wagner speaks of the bands success, stating that he hadn't ever had plans for Lambchop to be what it is today, "I only have the expectation for myself to make a better record and I can only hope that other people would feel the same," a humble Wagner states with confidence.
Other brilliant songs on this album include "Mr. Met" which perhaps would be symbolic of the albums name, "Mr. M" as it is the longest song on the album. This song, too, opens on a very harmonic orchestra, which subsides remarkably well with Wagner's raw yet inviting powerful vocals. "Buttons" tells of hardships and possesses relatable themes that are commonly found among the entire album. The album is even constructed in such a format that it works well with every song preceding it. Songs such as "The Good Life (Is Wasted)" puts the listener in a trance that the following titles "Kind Of" and "Betty's Overture" keep them in. toward the end of the album, the last 4 tracks, particularly maintain a steady jazz-felt piano vibe which is only complemented even more so with the bands orchestra.
Altogether, "Mr. M" may very well be one of the most exciting and relevant albums recently released. Critics of both independent and mainstream following have well accepted "Mr. M." Pitchfork gave the album an astonishing grade of 8.3, respectively categorized among the "best new music" selection of their reviews. Despite the fact that the group has seen countless lineups, and endured nearly two decades of music, having been considered a band of all genres weather it be folk, blue-grass, alternative-country, or post-lounge music, it is certain that "Mr. M" will grant you the opportunity to delve once more into "good music."