Music Monthly: April 2003
CD preview: The Adventures of Elliott Finésse
(these comments were based on a pre-release version of rough mixes)
The Adventures of Elliott Finésse is here! I am surely not the only one who has patiently waited for the second release from Carey Ziegler's Expensive Hobby. Needless to say, it has been a long time coming. Their first release, Short Stories, sold out numerous times. I can't remember how many times they had to re-order it. I liked that disc a lot, but there were things about it that I didn't like. I didn't like all the Crack The Sky sounds. Granted, Carey and Glenn are members of CTS, but Carey and Glenn together are magic, and this new record is Carey and Glenn (and the band it was meant to be) from start to finish.
I love it. Well, almost. For months I have been trying figure out what I would write about one of the songs on the disc. It happens to be titled "Susie", but it doesn't have a damn thing to do with me so get that crap out of your head right now. It is about, man, do I have to write this? If you knew Carey like I know Carey you would know that after music, the most important thing in life is what he can get from the opposite sex. Apparently the slang term for this in the south is "Susie". Listen and listen closely, although incredibly disrespectful, you can't help but laugh at the words to this song. But, I sure would give my right arm to have it called something else. I finally decided that the best thing to do was to be straight about it. I don't like it. Well, that's not quite true. It pisses me the hell off that it has to be my name. It makes me crazy because of what it is about. But it' s Carey, and you either love him or hate him, and I happen to love him and his band and his music. I've been a fan for decades and I know his stuff inside and out. I also know music and this guy and his band put out incredible music.
The Adventures of Elliott Finésse has been forever coming but now that it is here I gotta tell you, the more I listen to it, the more I like it. Make that love it. This is one incredible disc. As I said I think Carey and Glenn have a special magic, add the talents and ear of Doug Milton, and the incredible musicianship involved. It doesn't get any better than this. Expensive Hobby includes Andy Shriver, Mark St. Pierre, Barry Caudill, J.-J. Gunning, and Dave Makowiecki. Easily the best we've got.
The album starts with a somewhat instrumental (it has some vocals, kind of) tune called 'The Ride". For the life of me, I don't know why they opened this effort with an instrumental, thankfully the horns are so hot on the song, you gotta listen to it. They remind me of so many people. I guess so, look how many players we are talking about and consider all of their influences. Although I would not have put it as my lead track, there's something happening in this song, and the sound...man, its perfection. Excellent. Cut number two (should have been cut number one) "2 Below New York" kicks ass! The whole premise of the song is in relation to New York. In Carey's eyes, and a lot of people's eyes, we're not far from all things happening in the music business. A quick train ride and you are there, two states up, in New York. They have been playing this song live for awhile. Every time I hear it, I get goosebumps. It's incredible on disc, but live, it's eerie.
"Something Is Wrong" showcases Carey's many vocal talents, taking him from high to low and the horns match his every note. You want to get up and rock with the horns, and the keys, Holy Ghost--freaking awesome. The whole record is pretty damn good.
"Nation of Strangers" begins with an instrumental written by Glenn Workman. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, this man is a freaking genius and he excels on this release. Man you should hear these bass lines, damn CZ is good! He, too, is a genius, and together they've got it going on!
The next song (I am sorry to say!) is "Susie" and it is the best freaking cut on the disc. It makes me so damn mad. I want to not like this song so bad, but it is freaking great. It opens with these killer drum tracks and some bass sounds that make me crazy. All of the sudden Glenn Workman steps up to the plate and adds his keyboard genius to the already awesome team of Ziegler and St. Pierre..whew! And then the lyrics start. I have a sh*&-eating grin on my face, cause they are so..um..Carey. The chorus, "Susie, you lead and we'll follow, You've got us down on our knees, Will you be open tomorrow, Will you be open for me." You should hear these bass lines--they are giving me chills. Add Mark's drum tracks, oh my God! The damn song is made even better by the horns...wow!
"Don't Run Away" (Lullaby for Lee) is also a very good song. Carey's vocals shine on this cut, and the acoustic guitar added by Andy really works. The song was written for Lee Ziegler, a very special little girl. Her picture is also on the disc with the dogs, Izzy and Ollie. Beautiful, that's what this song is. Simply gorgeous.
Another favorite of mine is "Mr Trips". It's a wonderful song that goes a lot of different places, there are so many influences there. I hear Zappa, CSNY, Chicago, Queen, Tower of Power, Yes, Steely Dan, The Beatles, and so much more.
"Raccoon Theory" smokes and it does because of the guitar work of Andy Shriver. He is an excellent player, and sounds as good as he ever has. I will never forget him saying to me, "This is the band I've always wanted to be in." You can tell, he's wonderful. The horns also makes the song a notch above rest, but just barely. But I gotta tell you, I got a problem with the dogs barking. (It's so amateur!), but I laughed, they are on the liner notes, "Izzy & Ollie--barking vocals on Raccoon Theory." I was happy when they ended, I would have pushed skip had I had to listen to the dogs barking in my music too much longer. It made my skin crawl. I hate when sound effects are added to music, especially silly ones. Too bad, take away the animals, and I would have been happier!
The Adventures of Elliott Finésse is something I've been waiting for, for a long time. It was well worth the wait. It is great!