To be honest with you, I don’t know much about New Orleans except for a few jazz artists that have emerged from there. I’ve also heard of the terrible Katrina hurricane, I guess. New Orleans is the spot of the subject in this review, though, so I did a little research on it. Suplecs seem to have gathered the raw energy of their home city and brought it all together in a collection of songs they call Powtin’ on the Outside Pawty on the Inside released in 2005 on Nocturnal Records.
If this album succeeded in capturing the raw energy, anger, and other states of mind caused by the aforementioned catastrophe, with Mad Oak Redoux they are going to the next level, letting their experience do the talking. The band has kept the punk rock attitude that built up the previous album, but this time they were much freer with the experimentation, and it’s showed through the album’s forty minutes. The angst remains the same, but there is certainly much more hidden behind the mask of anger.
As for the label, punk rock isn’t really valid for describing this work. The band recalls a variety of elements from their past records, especially the fuzziness of Wrestlin’ with My Lady Friend released in 2000. Musically, this is the band’s most mature album and the progress is evident when compared to their previous works. The closest reference to any other bands or musicians Suplecs gives is Brant Bjork. I cannot tell about how much these peeps from New Orleans have been inspired by Bjork, but this is strictly a personal take on the music itself. Fema Man and Tried to Build an Engine are the closest examples for that. The opening Stand Alone feels like a song of hope, giving sparks of optimism through the chorus. Worlds on Fire is a short, punkish track, and together with Stepped On comes as the most punk-oriented piece off the album. 2×4 has nothing to do with Metallica song of the same name, and stylistically is the closest to the band’s earlier works, which are psychedelic, spacy and much fuzzier. Maybe for that reason I find this piece the most interesting. The bluesy overture of In Your Shadow explodes with a riff, setting a pace for a much more metal mood, while the aforementioned Stepped On could be easily described as something Jimi Hendrix would play if he played punk. While there’s apparent influence from blues and stoner rock with punk motifs in Coward, the closing Switchblade is a truly thick sludge moment.
There is nothing epochal in Mad Oak Redoux, nor has the band ever shown an urge for breaking any barriers, they have simply kept what they feel and from that reason this is probably their most valuable release. The maxim “with age comes experience” is proven once again.
Tried to Build an Engine
Words on Fire
In Your Shadow