Great Caesar - Ep
- Artist: Great Caesar
- EP: Ep
- Label: None
- Year of Release: 2009
- ME Rating:
- Reviewed by: solitaryman on 2011-03-27
During my hiatus from music review, I admit I spent no time whatsoever investigating new sounds. I was firmly entrenched in what I already knew, and knew full well that coming back into the fold of reviewing on unfamiliar was going to be tough. Thankfully, the recommendation feature of ME has given me a bounty of stuff to try out, and I started here, at NYC's jazz-ska-rock ensemble Great Caesar. Now, for reference, the songs I'm reviewing are not all included on their 2009 EP. One is missing from my review, and a few others here are not on the EP proper. These songs I am reviewing can all be found on their website to hear for free. I apologize if I'm doing any injustice, but I felt it imperitive to comment on the music as I've heard it rather than let my thoughts slide based on a technicality.
Despite not having any real knowledge of Great Caesar beyond their bio and a cross-section of their sound (6 songs), I can tell you that "The Tale of Buck Byron" is the kind of song that can make waves. The brass creates punctuation, flair and a sense of class behind the fairly straight-forward rock catchiness. The intro definitely seems to take a page from Ennio Morricone, and the entire track may be a modernized tribute of sorts to the legendary composer. More than likely, though, is that the song is just a great time, a tongue-in-cheek tale of a man taking extreme measures to save a kidnapped daughter. The vocals have the oomph needed to accompany such a sound, and are pleasantly reserved enough not to force attention away from the meat of this and the rest of the songs. "Sweet Banana" seems far less serious in theme, but in tone it has a bit more punch, a bit more underlying darkness to it. Lyrics are borderline ridiculous, and one gets the feeling that was intentional. This one ends on a steady anthemic build, a real sing-along section that must get fans in a bit of a frenzy live. "Mouth Erratic" is much more jazz-based than the rest of these songs, and it goes a great deal to showcase the other half of the fusion element Great Caesar incorporates to much pleasure. "Youthanized" has a bit of college-nerd broodiness to it (college-nerd music, while not an actual genre, may be an apt description for this sound to anyone who gets what I mean by it), and is much more guitar-driven than you'd expect. Very decent solo work on this one, this band has talent it can keep in reserve from track to track. "Everyone's a VIP to someone" is bouncy, hip to it's own groove, replete with the sort of lyrics that fit right in on the college circuits they seem to favor playing. "Tango" is maybe the best of the bunch, a perfect melding of all of their songwriting and instrumental flair, a song to close an eye-opening show in a smoky NYC jazz club. One to leave you wanting more...
...and that's where I am, wanting more. A proper LP might or might not be in the works (haven't been able to find any info on it), but it seems that Great Caesar may not even have to go that route anytime soon. An ensemble-type band like this, with their fusion elements, is almost strictly reserved to being best experienced live and in person. Reviews quote as saying they create a lively atmosphere, and they've had success enough to share stages with the likes of The Decemberists, Deerhoof, and even Third Eye Blind. Yes, my review might not do this band the proper amount of justice due to my unfamiliarity with their style of music, the general gist of it should read like this: if you like rock, and like jazz in your rock, and like the jazz-rock you like to be fun, then go on over to their website and pick up on what they're laying down.
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