Martini Ranch

Holy Cow

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Take a little Oingo Boingo, throw in a cupful of Devo, add a couple of spoonfuls of B-52's, and sift in some bizarre guest appearances from Hollywood actors (Bud Cort, Judge Reinhold), and the result should be something similar to Martini Ranch. Holy Cow is the sole album release from the Los Angeles-based duo of Andy Todd and Bill Paxton, and while the album's novelty approach wears thin, there's a surprising surplus of melody and songcraft on the album. Although Martini Ranch certainly has a sense of humor, this isn't a comedy album, and they aren't strictly a "Weird Al" Yankovic-styled novelty act. Instead, the band is essentially a party machine, and Holy Cow has more than its share of quirky danceable rock. Members of the aforementioned B-52's and Devo make appearances, and titles like "How Can the Labouring Man Find Time for Self Culture" prove Martini Ranch actually sprinkles a little intelligence into the mix. "Labouring" and the catchy "Hot Dog" are the two best tracks, and the rest of the album is surprisingly consistent. As Devo and the B-52's have proven on many releases, sometimes wackiness can become downright irritating over the course of an entire album. Fortunately, there are enough pop smarts here to save it from becoming an unfunny joke. Holy Cow is an acquired taste, but it still tastes pretty good. (Since this album's 1988 release, band member Bill Paxton has become a very familiar face in such films as Titanic, Twister, and A Simple Plan.)

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