Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats

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The name has changed slightly from the Meatbats' debut a year earlier with drummer/organizer Chad Smith adding his moniker to the end of the band name instead of the beginning, but the music, and the misleading cartoony cover art, stay the same. Smith seems to consider this a group of equals, which shows in all four musicians taking co-authorship for the songs, all originals except for a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick," oddly the album's weakest moment. Despite his presence being a marquee draw due to his work in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smith doesn't take any solos, except for a brief one on the Zeppelin tune, leaving him a remarkably low-key element of this electric, '70s-styled jazz-rock -- emphasis on rock -- quartet. Guitarist Jeff Kollman is the most visible member, whipping off leads that mix just enough shredding with more melodic elements. The tunes are riff-based, the licks are hot, and the musicianship is not only of the highest quality, but rarely ostentatious enough to detract from the songs. Unlike most drummer-led ensembles, Smith is content to provide muscular backing without overplaying his traps. This results in music that breathes while feeding off each of the participant's strengths. The arrangements generally shy away from being dense or hyperactive just to showcase the musician's obvious talents. Tracks like the easygoing ballad "Shag" and the straight-ahead jazz closer "Dr. Blotter and Miss Purple (Ride in the Echoplex)" (one of the many humorously obtuse titles) benefit tremendously from the dialed-down technique the group employs throughout. The cuts average about six minutes and none are extended past their breaking points, another sign of the relatively subtle approach the foursome adhere to. There's space around this music that leaves room for the drama, tension, and release that seems to come so effortlessly to these guys. While there is no denying the retro elements of the Meatbats' influences from Return to Forever or Jeff Beck, there are few contemporary, electric jazz-rock ensembles that are locked into the music's golden age without seeming stale, pretentious, or derivative.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 5:38 SpotifyAmazon
2 4:57 SpotifyAmazon
3 4:26 SpotifyAmazon
4 5:37 SpotifyAmazon
5 4:06 SpotifyAmazon
6 5:35 SpotifyAmazon
7 5:02 SpotifyAmazon
8 3:30 SpotifyAmazon
9 4:58 SpotifyAmazon
10 5:34 SpotifyAmazon
11 7:17 SpotifyAmazon
12 7:38 SpotifyAmazon
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