Hot Monkey

More Than Lazy

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The Grifters being a great band, it rather follows that individual members should show inspiration on their own -- and happily Scott Taylor proves this to be the case. Just him and a guitar, along with a drum machine here and there, Taylor, when performing as Hot Monkey, may by default be lumped in with the lo-fi crowd, but More Than Lazy is definitely a cut above most such releases out there. For one thing, he doesn't forget to rock at many points -- this isn't annoying self-pity à la Elliott Smith, for which all can be grateful. That's not to say there's plenty of melancholy, but the end results have an attractive warmth. The semi-reel of "Wheel," Taylor's voice echoing away in overdubs over the guitar and beats, the sweeter acoustic chime of "Hide-N-Seek," and the quick but wonderful flanged guitar instrumental "I Won't Tell" are three lovely moments among many. The better if not totally accurate point of comparison here is Robert Pollard's work away from Guided by Voices, in that both core bands love classic rock & roll and at their best fire it up again, and certainly songs here like "Favors" and "Sain" have that kick. The acoustic blues twang of "The Strap" is another clear sign of the artist's wellspring of ideas. Billy Bragg could, theoretically, also be a touchstone, but Taylor is less rushed and more deliberate, not so much coming from a punk background as a moodier, broader palette. Though, interestingly, some of the hushed numbers, like the simply beautiful "Sometimes," actually sound a lot like the Jesus and Mary Chain at their calmest. The songs with the fullest arrangements, like the mighty fine "Wait Up" and "Steam," could easily be seen as demos for a larger lineup, but sound just right as they are, sharp and instantly memorable.

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