Only a Mother

Damned Pretty Snout

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Only a Mother's last album, Damned Pretty Snout is already more like one of Frank Pahl's solo CDs (or the Scavenger Quartet) with the other members of the group guesting. The focus is firmly held on instrumental pieces -- only a few are sung. Mary Richards was not a full-time member anymore, but she appears on a couple of tracks. Other guests include Eugene Chadbourne, surely by that point a honorary member. Fans of Pahl's strange lyrics may feel a bit disappointed, but the instrumental writing comes through as being very clever and addictive, and woodwind player Marko Novachcoff throws in some of his best recorded work. The opening piece, "Dimes," sets a circus mood not unlike what is found on Pahl's CD Remove the Cork. "The Bricks Trilogy" lumps together the two previously released chapters of the story and a (real) epilogue. The middle section of the album features a sequence of cover songs, all completely off-the-wall in typical Only a Mother style: Michael Nesmith's "You Just May Be the One," Ravel's "Bolero," Mancini's "Peter Gunn," Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl," and, to top it off, the Beatles' "Secret." Genres are bulldozed to the ground by the group's tongue-in-cheek avant- folk arrangements. Newcomers should start with Feral Chickens, but Damned Pretty Snout remains very satisfactory.

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