20-TRACK SELF-RELEASED CD
Some genres are so perfectly nailed by certain artists that no one should even attempt playing music remotely in the same realm. Take reggae. Sucks. All of it—except for Marley. And jam bands? Blow. Completely. Every last stale-bong-water-reeking one of 'em—except for the Dead. Down in Newport Beach, there's Gizmo, a jam band that—while guilty of not being the Dead—are at least pretty listenable. An all-instrumental band, too, so there's no singer to screw everything up (though even our hearty ears couldn't endure 75 minutes' and 20 songs' worth of jam-banding, so track 18 could very well have been some 27-minute opus about goat-loving or mushroom munching). They didn't give us any song names, either, but we found their Myspace page and noticed one of them is called “Milk of Amnesia,” so maybe it's a good thing we don't know the other titles. The tunes? What you'd expect—a lot of perfectly decent guitar noodling, some sweet Hammond-like keyboard flourishes that made us think of Merl Saunders, a bottom line that would keep crowds dancing if they're into that, and some good, inventive playing that's a given for this sort of intricate improvisational work. Like every other jam band, you either love Gizmo or you don't—we found a lot to appreciate, but for others, it's a 75-minute CD that's 74:59 too long.
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