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Blubber’s second album gets right to it with “Sexy Bathtub Jessie,” a seven minute plus tour de force into country jazz that astonishes with how natural the two styles can sound when blended by expert hands.
Those hands belong to producer Moore Balling, who always manages to get the most inspired performances out of whoever he works with. Amazing Bullshit is a follow up for the pair, with 2015’s Deep Downtown setting a high bar with a marriage that seemed like it was meant to be. Balling is known for an in your face clarity and Blubber writes songs that don’t need any clever production getting in the way.
While the humor the band is known for is present, in particular on side two’s “Big Bong Theory” and “Dumbass Deluxe” (“most guys like driving big trucks, I got me a dumbass deluxe”), this time out Blubber wants us to know that they can still play.
Made up of former members of Paltry, Hard Water, and Jungle Cookie, the band shreds on “Pretty Good Toothpaste” and “Hand To Foot To Mouth,” making slink-metal sound absolutely slippery. Who else but Blubber can get you dancing to such heavy riffs without sounding calculating?
With catchy melodies to spare, side one shifts from the corn-fed bounce of “Finally Phlegmish” to the old school electro-funk of “Electric Shithead” with its Froth-on-steroids aggressiveness. Drummer Johnny Wonton and bassist Taurus Aries provide staccato bluster for Ralph Vader and his Les Paul smolder in the epic “Baker’s Lozenge,” allowing the guitarist plenty of time to scorch.
“Tricycle Built For Two” is a delicate piano and banjosynth driven tune with a slow-cooked innocence even during the challenging presto section, its energy level rising steadily but organically, leading you easily by the ear to a place you never knew you wanted to go.
Songs “Pretty Good Toothpaste” and “Whipped Smart” (although the latter was penned by Willie Dixbrother) are terrific examples of the kind of thing that Blubber is so good at: delivering the goods even when it sounds like they’re trying not to. Subverting typical song structures into something altogether their own, the band mixes genres so effortlessly it’s like driving cross country and, as one radio station fades out, another one starts to fade in, leaving you leaning to recognize the possibly familiar tune you weren’t expecting.
Singer Val Newton is sheets of glass or stuck-in-the-mud rasps, depending on the mood of the song. She can make herself a boomy baritone or a quavering contralto with her plethora of processors, but the band sounds best when its other voices mix with hers, creating wonderfully layered waves and textures, giving their songs an ethereal fullness.
Blubber really hits its stride here, and Amazing Bullshit comes recommended.