Trotsky Icepick

El Kabong

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On the first Trotsky Icepick release to feature new vocalist John Talley-Jones, the band adopted a simpler, harder-rocking sound than on Baby. New drummer Hunter Crowley was a more powerful and straightforward player than his predecessors, and the soft art rock touches retreated to the background of most songs. There are a few tracks here that show the potential of the new lineup -- "Cornfield" has effective harmonies by Talley-Jones and Vitus Mataré and an unusual melody line in which the bass and drums are the lead instruments. Another highlight is "Unbuttoned," a rare lyrical contribution from bassist John Rosewall, which is both really disturbing and very well-performed. Unfortunately, much of El Kabong is competent and lively but somehow unfocused. On the band's next album, The Ultraviolet Catastrophe, the sound was better integrated and the material more consistent. Completists will want this album for the good tracks, but it's not essential for anyone else.

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