Recorded in a barn that the bandmembers themselves converted into a studio, Katonah is both a collection of tight, quirky, hook-ridden songs and an ambitious concept piece, unified not so much by any single idea as by a ceaseless gush of eager creativity. In fact, the album consists of a thousand fragments -- bursts of harmony, blasts of furious rhythm, loopy interpolations, screeching guitars that can, in a single solo during "Conscious Pilot," echo both Jimmy Page and the Allman Brothers, all arranged as if picked up at random by spinning some sort of time-machine radio dial through broadcasts dating back to the '60s and up through tomorrow too. Yet it all hangs together, in part because of an uncanny ability to match appropriate sound to content, as in the ungodly racket that evokes a drunken party in "Sheets With Stars." More important is the consistency of tone that the lyrics achieve, like journal entries about life in some slightly surreal suburb. Family events, personal milestones, and cataclysm jumble together, much as they would in a teenager's diary; "Happening," a brilliantly horrifying chronicle of the 9/11 disasters, manages to make note of how it ultimately confirmed Mom's advice on how it's good to watch TV "so we can be more aware." Katonah ultimately is about finding order -- no, beauty -- in chaos, using music as well as words to make the point, a far greater accomplishment than most artists can envision.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Robert L. Doerschuk