steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"The Mysteriously Untitled Fourth Album" CD

Fort Hazel

Genres: jazz, indie rock, surf

Fort Hazel
1400 Hill Road
Boise ID 83702

Oct 14 - 20 2002

Yeah, baby, yeah! This, Lowbelly's Mysteriously Untitled Fourth Album, is exactly what I wanted to hear. This is just loose, playful jazz with a bit of a rock vibe to it. Not only that, but it's on the fantastically diy Fort Hazel label of Boise, Idaho!

Featuring thirteen wonderful tracks, two of which are covers of Henry Mancini and Yes tunes, this album is a thoroughly entertaining listen. The starter, "Grow Bug," starts the album off on an electronicized rock note, but the album quickly moves into "cartoon jazz" territory with "March of the Swingers," a surf-rock inspired clarinet-solo freak-out that will get your head bobbing.

Then comes "Blue Mantilla," a pleasantly true-to-the-original version of Henry Mancini's lounge classic. "Momma Had To Go," which follows, is a delicious morsel of laidback groovy-ness set to a delectable jazz beat. The band's choice to include surf guitar in a jazz context works fantastically, making for a swanky jazz toe-tap-a-thon.

The other tracks on this album, including the funky "With His Pointed Shoes" and the loose "Selected Grains" are also lots of fun, and Lowbelly sounds so great with their craft that it seems as if they were born for the jazz swung beat. Everything just sounds so natural, from the beautiful treble of the chirping guitars to the twisting and turning of the improvised solo clarinet.

But it isn't until "Troutdale," this album's eighth track, that we finally experience Lowbelly at their best. With a fantastic organ chord progression in the background, the song is exactly what you'd want to hear at a dimly-lit jazz club, sipping down space-age martinis with pimento-eyed olives floating in them.

While there are some deviations (the more electronic-based "Of Green Pastures", the playful toy-orchestrated "The Action is the Creation"), Lowbelly seem to prefer the jazz style to other genres, and thankfully it's what they're best at. To put it frankly, this is one of the best diy releases I've ever heard.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 35 min 26 sec; 13 tracks; distributed by the label; released 2000]