In a Bar, Under the Sea


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In a Bar, Under the Sea Review

by Ned Raggett

Producing the opening track "I Don't Mind Whatever Happens" to sound like a scratchy blues track from 1930 may well be the little joke of either the band or producer Eric Drew Feldman in homage to his former boss Captain Beefheart. The results work pretty well anyway, though, and that characterizes the same "try it, let's see what happens" spirit through In a Bar. Having established its own sense of savvy white boy urban blues on Worst Case Scenario, the band explores more ways around it on its second effort, generally favoring a quieter, calmer result throughout. New guitarist Craig Ward fits into the lineup well, business carrying along as usual in its striking way. Feldman proves to be an excellent guy to have behind the boards; whether it's he or the band who figures out some of the fantastic stop on a dime shifts and arrangements throughout, all work together with great results. Clever sampling once again crops up: Mingus' "Far Wells, Mill Valley" gets a nod on the smoky snarl "Theme From Turnpike." "Fell Off the Floor, Man" is another high-point, so accomplished and sly in its genre shifting and moods that Beck could be envious. Scott McCloud of Girls Against Boys, a perfectly appropriate guest, takes a bow with some spoken word philosophy, but it's the band's blend of low, spoken vocals, weird harmonies, and sudden shifts between tight rhythms and slabs of feedback that make it all work. Another American takes a bow as well -- Dana Colley, saxophonist for Morphine, on the brief "Supermarketsong" -- but mostly it's all dEUS proving that Belgians can indeed rock. Whether it's the gentle strum and swing (then much more intense break) of "Little Arithmetics," the Built to Spill five years before its time pace and delivery of "Gimme the Heat," or the lovely piano-into-guitar anthem "Disappointed in the Sun," In a Bar is worth the finding.

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