Wise Monkey Orchestra

Make Believe

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Recorded after their move from the Arizona Valley to San Diego, Make Believe, the Wise Monkey Orchestra's 1998 debut, comes across in many places like a more sensuous, slower, and softer version of Yolk, an early politically charged hard funk-oriented jam band from Upstate New York. The band's lyrics -- by vocalist Alley Stewart and keyboardist Sean Hart on songs like "The Truth" and "Smog" -- border on social commentary though rarely offer anything resembling a radical critique. Stewart's melodies are rhythmic, sliding gracefully over the band's vaseline grooves. The rhythm section of bassist Chad Stewart and drummer Ed Fletcher doesn't quite cook, but certainly moves along at a nimble clip, overlaying horn parts never quite transcending the lounge atmosphere of the disc. The album was originally released by the band on their own One Drop imprint and went out of print for several years before being reissued by Lauan Records in 2001.