Friday, October 15, 2010

Album Review: The Tomahawks - Cut Loose

The Tomahawks - Cut Loose

I'll make the argument that The Strokes are the reason I just listened to Cut Loose by Chapel Hill's The Tomahawks, stay with me... In 2001 I was the guy who would get a late night call from friends asking to solve an argument on who is singing the song currently blasting on the speakers at the bar that they were getting wasted at. "That's Thin Lizzy," and the response in the receiver would sound like a a truck load of money was just dropped on a crowd. Yes, I was a classic rock junkie, completely addicted to gas station compilations and obscure dollar-album record store buys and had comfortably given up on any new rock being made to rival the glory of the seventies, a stubbornness that resulted in missing out on the root of indy in the nineties. But then came Is This It with its visceral guitar work and emotionally drenched lyrics to shake me out of the classic rock cradle and drop head first into a world of indy rock. Now I'll bring it full circle. A few years later on the road back from Music Midtown our van load of exhausted festival trippers collectively decided that if we were game for jetting all the way to Atlanta for indy, we should be taking in the local fare on a regular basis too. Over the course of the next few years I would create yet another polarizing addiction, this time for local rock. Voila...The Strokes got me to indy, indy got me to local, local got me to The Tomahawks.

A stretch yes indeed but this story held relevance for me because in listening to Cut Loose I found a unique parallel in the projections of The Tomahawks front man Nick Jaeger and one of the most defining members of the Strokes, Albert Hammond Jr. I'm not going to draw a similarity in sound, I am going to cite a commonality in the paths they have both walked however. Both lent their skill as lead guitarist for brilliant establishments prior to their solo work, Hammond Jr of course The Strokes, Jaeger the locally famous MAX Indian. And each were able to take the best parts of their formers and make something truly brilliant of their own. In 06' when The Strokes were talking break-up I was down and out until the release of Yours to Keep, Hammond Jr's first solo album. Like a shot with a diamond bullet right through the forehead I suddenly realized what about The Strokes that pulled me so hard, it was Hammond Jr's guitar arrangements which were so dazzling on his solo work that I remarked "this is the missing Strokes album." My first listens to Cut Loose with its rollicking back beat and bouncy spirit hit me just as precisely. Instantly feeling the same luster and energy present in MAX Indian, it was like re-articulating my memory and associating Jaeger more closely with the genes that made his former so wonderful.

Found in Cut Loose are nostalgia evoking AM radio appointments that can carry your thoughts between surf rock and southern hospitality in the same track. Bouncy chompy piano keys and drifting harmonies hurry to announce the album as upbeat and winsome while sure footed electric guitar work firmly label it rock. Jaeger being a principal architect of fret board arrangement and design, there is no shortage of licks and hitches, more so like a life savings worth poured out and evenly shaken across the album falling into every crack and crevice in the rhythm where a ditty could stick. Reminding me of the softer side of Ween, and the best sides of Wilco, the vocal character on Cut Loose is a smooth respiring candor intent on accounting for an unraveling story of affection which uses all ten tracks to tell, but any given one of them to feel. Hammond Jr. made a momentary departure from comfortable establishment to create something unique and personal, Cut Loose finds our own Nick Jaeger answering the same call with the same passion. --Carrboro Ninja

post script

The Tomahawks release Cut Loose with a performance at Local 506 in their home town Chapel Hill today October 15th, 2010. Show time is 9:30 PM and tickets are seven dollars at the door. Floating Action and Josh Moore open.

Album Art
The Tomahawks - Cut Loose

The Tomahawks - Cut Loose

The Tomahawks - Cut Loose

The Tomahawks - Cut Loose

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