"Tin Rooster House" TAPE

Wow! Here is a welcome change of pace. Geb the Great Cackler's new album "Tin Rooster House" at its best sounds like acoustic Neutral Milk Hotel song structures song by dual female vocals akin to the Softies with a pinch of Joan Jett thrown in there for good measure. Interesting horns and sounds immerge under dramatically strummed acoustic guitar rhythms and two girls singing clearly, forte and with sincerity. At times it feels a little too forced and almost in deep blues territory, but then the next thing I know its going into a 3/3 time signature and feels like the soundtrack to a merry-go-round.

pedals and effects are present but only exist to assist in the mood of a song, they do not play an overproduced central role. The illusion of sitars emerge, reverbed guitars give a bow to west coast surf fender tone, but at the core of all these songs is that Earthly acoustic at all times. The rhythm can get full throttle and compliments well on sounding current. "Hurricane" is an obvious nod to girl group power pop punk, but still remains truly the creation of Geb the Great Cackler by not stepping out of formula and introducing a GLOCKENSPIEL 3/4 through the song!

Right when you think you've figured this band out they shift gears. the sensation is akin to listening to an early Magnetic Fields album; the theme is consistently present and the tonal range only limited to their humble musical equipment (which is a total added bonus in my book because it sounds ... you know, real).

The title song "Tin Rooster House" gets into Marnie Stern level experimentation, but gets a little too "Cotton Eye Joe" for me. This may be a little harsh on my part, but it is a kinder way of saying the male's vocals are off tune and just kind of sound goofy. It's clear the female vocals on this album are superior. But the violin/guitar/tambourine/bongo instrumental at the end of the song makes it all worth going through. The supremely fast guitar picking and bongoing is stupendous!

"Worm World" sounds mediterranean or arab in scale structure. Again, a reverberated woodblock beat makes this song have the most subtle dance backbone making it mysteriously seductive - right before it goes into breakbeat tempo guitar bar chords. This juxtaposition is radical and shows just how out there Geb the Great Cackler can get at times. Again, "Worm World" goes through a chordal progression that gets too melodramatic for a moment, but ends with expertly recorded and reverberated plucked violin strings.

Heart of the World is a great ending. The instruments sound battered, chugging and dirty tube amps but the female vocals are still smooth and full. It's a true psychedelic song during the refrains, but then chanting and surfing in the chorus.

There's a lot going on in Geb the Great Cackler's "Tin Rooster House". Check this tape out!

-- Jack Turnbull