Friday, 20th April 2018. 6:50:35am ET
Reviews CD Reviews Alternative, Indie Rock Ahab Rex- Rollin' With the Ahab Rex Quintet


Artist: Ahab Rex
CD Title: Rollin' With The Ahab Rex Quintet
Label: self-released
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 5/23/04

On the aptly titled Rollin' With The Ahab Rex Quintet, Ahab Rex and company serve up a blend of eclectic alternative rock. When I say eclectic, I'm not talking about an album divided between heavy material and ballads. I mean the album sometimes completely and unexpectedly changes genres (not just sub-genres), and, at times, marries very different and often peculiar musical elements that normally wouldn't blend well but seem to work perfectly here. In fact, the album itself is miraculously quite cohesive despite musical pairings that few other artists would attempt. Yes, the album is fairly bizarre, but ingeniously so. Exceptionally well-written, performed, and produced, this is one interesting ride.

The disc, with the tracklist divided into two "sides", kicks off with the great distorted riff-based rap rock track "dummy" before entering bizarre surf rock territory with the crunchy guitar riffs and amusingly offbeat processed vocals of "undertow no. 5". Things then take an exceptionally weird but fun psychedelic pop twist as female vocals sing "la di da, la la la la" to groovy retro guitar riffs interspersed with mellower musical phrases accompanied by heavily distorted vocals on "vertigo". "The surgeon's photo" enters bass-driven triphop/rock hybrid territory as Rex pumps out cool low-pitched monotone vocals. "Side one" ends with an energetic and well-done cover of L7's "The Bomb" under the name "plastic people".

"Side two" starts out with the grungy "cheer up", a simple but catchy song reminiscent of Bleach-era Nirvana or early Hole. "The national anthem" finds Ahab giving a Sex Pistols-esque shouting vocal delivery regarding American violence over a variety of crunchy guitar riffs and odd processed guitars. Funky bass and a return to laid back low-pitch vocals mark "to whom it may concern", after which the album takes yet another completely unexpected turn with the excellent lounge jazz number "dope sick" complete with semi-spoken vocals and a bass clarinet foundation. The disc ends with the band's cover of The Cure's "Cold" from the tribute album Strange as Angels, replacing the moody synths of the original with crunchy guitar riffs, wailing lead guitars, and feedback accented by Ahab Rex's deep monotone vocals and shouting background vocals. It's a great intense rock take on the classic Pornography tune and quite seriously one of the best Cure covers I've heard (and I've literally heard hundreds).

Yes, Rollin' With The Ahab Rex Quintet is about as solid as they come but far more diverse and intriguing than your typical attempt at musical eccentricity. While many bands sacrifice musicality for stylistic experimentation, Ahab Rex found a nice balance somewhere in between and, in the process, made one of the most unique and interesting rock albums I've heard in quite some time. This is one album that shouldn't be overlooked!

 

Ahab Rex website: www.ahabrex.com

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