RIN TIN TIGER
Rin Tin Tiger
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BEST IN THE WEST
The highly anticipated debut EP from Rin Tin Tiger, the new incarnation of the Sullivan Brothers’ Westwood & Willow project featuring Mr. Andrew on drums, consists of six reworked versions of Westwood & Willow tunes, mostly from last year’s excellent Doorways, Vehicles, & Markets album. While some of the songs merely sound like re-arrangements of Westwood songs with drums (“Ghost Door”), others are drastically improved, with the thickened guitar textures and high-energy drumbeats increasing the emotional power of Kevin Sullivan’s vocals. “Red Pony” is particularly impressive, taking one of the band’s lesser-known songs and fleshing out its full power. Also notable is the addition of ghostly backing vocals and subtly dissonant harmonies on “Sweetest Fruit,” adding tension to the song and making you feel as if Kevin’s pulse truly is beating out of rhythm before the song builds up into a furious climax.
“With A Little Help From My Friends”
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Jack Gorlin’s covers rarely deviate much from the originals, but Gorlin knows exactly how much to change the song--a subtle difference in vocal texture or guitar tone makes all the difference. On his cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends,” Gorlin almost sounds like an R&B singer, trailing off into melisma and replacing the original’s harmonies with a disco falsetto. Imagine if Joe Cocker was an Island/Def Jam artist and you get the picture.
* * 1/2
This folk-rock quartet has a lot going for it. The songs on Owl Paws have decent lyrics, excellent guitarwork, and some very nice harmonies and arrangements. “Party Johnson,” with its glam guitars and open-hearth harmonies, is particularly excellent. These songs can be listened to by themselves, but they make fine background music as well. However, their main fly in the ointment, which at times threatens to overpower the positive aspects of this album, is the overpronounced and frequently melodramatic vocals, which are pushed uncomfortably against the listener’s ear.