courtesy of photobyskeebo.comCONQUEST SLAUGHTERVELVET BLUE MUSIC
For a spell, Frank Lenz was the funkiest, sauciest white dude in all of OC. That was back in 2001 when he put out The Hot Stuff, a CD that bubbled over with '70s slow-groove R&B, replete with wide organ swaths; pole-dance-worthy backbeats; sinful horn charts; and Lenz's come-hither, octave-smashing voice. Music that could have been lifted off the soundtrack of a vintage porn flick—pretty good for a guy who's mostly a drummer in other people's bands. Now, Lenz lobs a 180 with Conquest Slaughter, where he's given up the funk and taken up . . . Quaaludes? Hey, something's turned him into a mellower, less-danceable guy—probably all the Neil Young and Flaming Lips records he's spent the past four years listening to. So this one is jacked with sweeping orchestral touches, sad piano ballads, dreamy acoustic guitars and atmospheric organ noodlings, and it's great, especially when Lenz hurls that voice of his up into the stratosphere—you swear he could hold a note up there for a good half-hour. And what's he got to say with it? Well, "Isoflurane" is about anesthesia and operating rooms; the title tune could be about slavery or the Aztecs or animal rights; "Jesus Take Care of Your Body" imagines Christ as a touring, road-dogged musician; and "Tree Swinging Hippies"—well, we actually don't have a clue what that's about. But Lenz is more about spritzing sonic graffiti on your eardrums than verbal wordplay, and the album's sound and feel are what ultimately hook you. This is sort of Lenz's own Smile album, only without the 40-year wait time, the weirdo therapist/caregiver and the unusually potent psychedelics.
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OC and Long Beach bands and musicians! Mail your CDs and tapes (along with your vital contact info, plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., STE. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701-7417.