Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Zorbonauts — Armed Slobbery
(SingSong 134, 2021, DL)
Deckchair Poets — The Crop Circlers' Guide to Abstract Expressionism
(SingSong, 2021, DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-06-17
One might be asking right about now, why is he reviewing albums by two different bands together in a single review? The truth is that Deckchair Poets and Zorbonuts are just two names for the same group of musicians, and what kind of material they are presenting determines which band name they use. The band’s core writers are guitarist / mandolinist Ollie Hannifan (also a member of Mister Kanish, Synaesthesia, and Mamma Mia) and singer Lynden Williams (also a member of Jerusalem, The Britz, and Oxoxox). Some of the other members are involved in the compositions also, so let’s get to them — some won’t need a lot in the way of introductions: keyboardist Geoff Downes, drummer Nick D’Virgilio, bass guitarist Dave Meros, composer Bob Cooke, and singer Rachel Hawnt. Add to that another half dozen guest players on various instruments and you’ll get the idea that the writing core of these two bands have some great talent working with them. So what will differentiate between a Deckchair Poets set and one for the Zorbonauts? Deckchair Poets' material might contain humorous or novelty lyrics along with more of of an anything-goes attitude to the music they make, while Zorbonauts lyrics tend to be of a more serious nature, with a a darker edge. Both bands can include cover tunes, and both are very well produced (by Rob Aubrey), and the production and musicians involved account for the similarities between the two bands. The Crop Circlers' Guide to Abstract Impressionism is the earlier release from February 2021, featuring oddballs and novelties like “Even the Queen” (with the refrain “I can tell you everything, even the Queen has got B.O.”), “Willy’s Caught” (in my zipper), “Bye Bye Fly,” “Hey Napoleon,” and others. But they take on some serious subjects as well like “Dictators Poor Image Projection,” and there are a few cover tunes here as well — one of the standouts is Dave Edmunds’ “Fool Too Long” originally from the second Rockpile album. There are also a number of very short numbers clocking in at under one minute like “Pointing Percy,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” and “Mr. Future” (among others). Musically, though, the album is an outstanding collection of well-produced straight-up rock. The same can be said for Armed Slobbery, although the lyrical content is a bit more serious, as the opener “Driving Down Alvarado” clearly demonstrates, and all of the original tunes that follow. For myself, it’s an easier set to like. And there are a couple wekk executed cover tunes here, including their version of “Not Fade Away.” Williams is an excellent rock singer who does justice to every song on both albums, and Hannifan’s guitar solos are the highlight of many of the songs here. How much one likes these will ultimately depend on how much one appreciates a straight-up rock sound.
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