Plenty of rock bands with the indie label in the 21st century -- whether they want the label or not -- seek to do something different with the standard guitar-bass-drums lineup, hoping to stand out amidst a lot of other bands also wanting to stand out. Such is the nature of music, perhaps. In any event, Ham1, whose members play cello, trombones, and more -- along with "shouts," as the credit list reads -- aim to make their own sweetly ragged mark with The Captain's Table, and the end result is just that -- sweetly ragged rock & roll that's rushed, energetic, drawling, a little of this and a little of that. Chris Sugiuchi's trombone work features throughout the album as melodic counterpoint or addition to the core riffs, as can be heard on "Hare Lipped Bust," while Eric Harris' drums in particular sound like Dave Fridmann has come over to do some extra recording on the sly. It's not so much later Flaming Lips that Ham1 call to mind as much as earlier -- or at least early-'90s -- artists, a stew of sounds and approaches that includes Man or Astro-man?-style space garage twang ("Saluki") and gentle Velvet Underground-inspired chug ("I Had a Good Idea, But It Passed My Mind"). Lead singer Jim Willingham is a little generic in comparison to all this -- an amiable enough speak-sing approach that shows he certainly knows his Pavement albums, among many others. Meanwhile, credit has to go to the band for one of the more memorable song titles around -- "How Can You Watch T.V. with a Dead Person?"
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett