Sunday, April 09, 2006

Heavy mental music

So their press kit tells us they met in an institution. Creativity and mental illness . . . It's been said they make strange bedfellows, right?

Whether or not the germ that became The 55's was actually planted in a loony bin is open to debate, but this much we do know: The band takes a somewhat frantic approach to its music making. Quite simply, The 55's all over the place, as they dabble in country, blues, folk, and rudimentary rock. Never long enough, however, to take note of their influences.

"Was that a tickie of Johnny Cash I heard in there?" "Not sure; still trying to figure out if that was a bit of Dylan in that last one."

The 55's, who hail from Edinburgh, made their debut with the four-song EP, Before The Judge Turned Us To Shadow. The title hints at more lucid days, before the ole neurons stopped communicating efficiently, before the Maker covered all with the shroud of insanity. Before those days spent in the institution.

The band's patchwork hybrid sound was then expanded to the tune of 16 songs on Cobra. Noxious, biting, skulking -- it was a strong debut from one of Scotland's more promising acts.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Height Of Nashville" by The 55's. Think of Sons And Daughters' "Fight" on greenies, and with a dash of American West flair.