Crazy Mary

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Knucklehead Review

by Stanton Swihart

All of Crazy Mary's impulsive musical proclivities -- eclecticism and eccentricity chief among them -- are as much in play as ever on Knucklehead, the band's fifth full-length outing, sometimes maddeningly so. Co-leaders Charles Kibel and George Kerezman split the songwriting duties pretty well right down the middle, so while the stylistic consistency may leave something to be desired, the songs cover a lot of ground, and usually in splendid, carefree fashion. "Invisible" has almost a klezmer or Eastern European feel with Walter Steding's forlorn, omnipresent violin accompaniment, and the far-out "Land of Jagged Mountains," featuring Steding again as well as Kibel's electric sitar, explores spirituality and Middle Eastern modality, but elsewhere Crazy Mary goes all brassy and buoyant, utilizing the New York Horns for the funk blowout "When the Shit Hits the Fan" and antiapocalypse "Duck and Cover." The novelty "Brian Jones" is a hoot, too, making good use of the proverbial Bo Diddley beat, and the band follows it up with the faux-innocent "Let's All Have a Party," a breezy proapocalypse tune that reproduces down to the backing handclap early rock & roll balladry, conceptually a pretty inspired sequence. The title track reinvents surf music as swank go-go pop, and, except for the vocals, "Still Water" does Chicago blues surprisingly convincingly. Kibel even gives hip-hop a shot on "Angel in Disguise," even if it sounds more like an aged EMF. Knucklehead certainly won't lose one of New York's favorite garage bands any fans, and it's easy to imagine it gaining them a few.

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