Dieselhed

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Arcata, CA's fun, Ween-like Dieselhed released this honey-slow anomaly with Bong Load Records, perhaps to emphasize their sleepier honky tonk capabilities. They are an awfully versatile (never say "eclectic" within earshot of drummer and spokesman Danny Heifetz -- he's sick of hearing that) band, after all -- their previous three records are fairly combustive and, well, weird. What does remain true to the Dieselhed standard established by their earlier efforts is a distinct and reverent country & western tradition that never contradicts essential tenets of punk and understated alt-funk. There is a solid songwriting aesthetic continued here, too, defined by swift and selective storytelling, and as long as the lyrics remain decipherable we're in for many strange good treats. On "Futon Song," for example, we're let in on the minutiae of a band's life on the road, as explained by the "narrator" in the song: "We were trying to track down the PA/Which reminds me: can you bring it back?/'Cause the music store's closed on Tuesdays." The concept may not be high, but it can bring on a cool little chuckle. A producer at Dieselhed's former label Amarillo pleaded to include "Tying Flies" on an earlier album, but the song never made it until now, and this strange little jukebox waltz deserves the most air time of all the cuts: "Are those your real lips?/Are those your real eyes?/You were just sitting there/Like you were tying flies..." A straight-up snoozer at times, but a requisite collectable for a band who may prove yet that they can eventually do whatever funky, punky, box-step thing they want to.

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