Album Reviews

#Sassafras: Les Claypool

#Sassafras: Les Claypool

Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang // Four Foot Shack
Record Label: ATO Records (Released: February 4th, 2014)

What the hell is wrong with Les Claypool’s brain? The bass phenom has pushed the limits of both the instrument and music itself through his escaped. Whether with Primus, Oysterhead, The Flying Frog Brigade or any other project he’s been a member of, he brings a sound and vibe that only he can provide. Now he has yet another collective to add to his roster.

In Duo De Twang, Claypool teams with Bryan Kehoe for a deconstructed album that mixes reworking of Primus tunes, originals and some unique covers. With just vocals, bass, guitar and stomped percussion, these are shots of pure distilled backwoods funk. The duo’s stripped-down rendition of “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” features rapid bass slapping paired with acoustic slide guitar. Given the yodeling in the original, it feels like this might have been the way it intended.

The first cover on the block is an excellent turn at the Jerry Reed classic “Amos Moses”. Trading Reed’s gut-string pickin’ for Les’ slappin’ and Kehoe’s groovin’ they tell the tale of famous cajun gator hunter. DDT were able to keep the original’s humorous storytelling while making their own. “Red State Girl” keeps the creepy tone of the original and “The Bridge Came Tumblin’ Down” (originally by Stompin’ Tom Connors) recounts the tragedy of Vancouver. In “Bridge”, Claypool’s buttery thump and rattle keeps the old-timey beat while Kehoe’s slippery slide playing makes a song of sorrow seem almost playful.

“Staylin’ Alive” is quite possibly the oddest cover in the collection with Kehoe hitting the strings with a mandolin-like chop and Claypool going full-tilt-carnival on vocals. It’s a trip but you’ll find yourself hitting repeat just to enjoy it all over again. The Duo shoots the curl on their twangy take on the Chantay’s classic “Pipeline”, replete with the fellas chanting the piano parts and “Buzzards of Green Hill” strips away the instrumentation on the Flying Frog Brigade tune to the DDT bare-bones variety.

Even the Grunge-era Alice In Chains classic “Man In The Box” get the DDT treatment making it less grunge and more like moonshine.

Following their take on the “The Battle of New Orleans” (made famous by Johnny Horton), DDT closes Four Foot Shack out with a spin with Jerry, a certain race car driver that any Primus fan will recognize. They don’t slow down on this one either, giving Jerry his full due with razor sharp tunes and fiery playing.

Duo De Twang is a strange affair. It’s bizarre and wonderful all at the same time. It’s

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Mark Nason

February 3rd, 2014

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