Scrapomatic

Alligator Love Cry

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

The two guys in Scrapomatic get a little more, well, scrappy on their sophomore release. Vocalist Mike Mattison and guitarist Paul Olsen work a stripped downed sound to reveal the gospel and Delta roots beneath their gritty swamp blues. This baker's dozen of tracks veers from the near vaudeville jazz of "Lotus" to the acoustic churchy strains of "Tired Weak Legs," the latter aided by Kristina Beaty's lovely vocals. Mattison's gruff yet malleable vocals add to the bluesy feel of the songs. His singing, which occasionally hits a Prince-styled falsetto as on the R&B drenched "Monkey Card," is consistently riveting, even when he moves too far into Tom Waits territory on the tuba enhanced opening "Louisiana Anna." Beaty takes lead on a stirring duet ballad "The Other Side" and her Susan Tedeschi-styled voice meshes well with Mattison's similarly throaty approach. A rearranged cover of the old Replacements punk track "God Damn Job" is revelatory as this version digs into the frustration at the heart of the song's rather simplistic lyrics. "Long Way Home" even brings some rustic folk-country to the equation. But it's on the slow, grinding backwoods blues like the self-explanatory "Raw Head and Bloody Bones" and "Horsemeat," both led by Olsen's greasy lead lines, that the duo best connects with its material. Despite, or maybe because of, its eclectic nature, Alligator Love Cry defines Scrapomatic as a tough and talented act comfortable in a variety of genres all infused by a rugged blues base. Mattison is a terrifically talented singer, secure with diverse styles, and guitarist Olsen likewise snakes around these often dissimilar tunes with panache and intensity. Veteran jazz/blues producer John Snyder's work here, as on the group's debut, is characteristically exemplary. He frames these songs with a lean atmosphere while highlighting the duo's synergistic vocal-guitar interplay.

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