Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Three Legged Fox – Not As Far

Here’s a fun way to get started on the summer of 2009 a little early. It’s a great boombox cd for frisbee in the park, afternoons at the beach with bloody marys in styrofoam cups or going out for a little smoke behind the rocks. Alternately mellow and upbeat, Three Legged Fox’s new cd mixes reggae, rock and some occasional ska flavor into a catchy, bouncy, frequently danceable mix that manages to be very accessible yet completely original as well. Frontman Kyle Wareham’s casual, laid-back, completely unaffected vocals work well with the seemingly effortless groove of the rhythm section and Mike Brody’s tasteful, purist lead guitar along with occasional organ to sweeten the mix. 

 

The cd kicks off with Soul Thief, a straight-up rock song with hints of Rain by the Beatles – or (hold your laughter if you can), what Counting Crows or Hootie & the Blowfish might have done if they’d been capable of anything besides cliches. Away is a reggae tune with an upbeat Bob Marley 70s feel. The title track gets going with a rousing rock intro, then gets quiet with reggae, then builds to a little more of a modern rock feel than anything else here. With its ska-inflected lead guitar, Maybe I’m Sorry picks up the pace and intensity as the chorus kicks in with an insanely catchy hook. Back Again has a somewhat tongue-in-cheek little southern rock intro with bluesy guitar and organ before reverting to a reggaeish vibe.

 

With its warmly funky edge and layers of spiky, incisive guitar, Gone is one of the standout tracks here, as is the next cut, the rootsy reggae tune I Believe with an inspired, upbeat vocal by Soldiers of Jah Army frontman Jacob Hemphill. Slow Down effortlessly blends ska and rock with a hip-hop lyrical feel into a catchy anthem. With its big, ornate Beatlesque intro, Help is a lot closer to Abbey Road than anything the Fab Four did before that. After that, Found Out builds from a bubbly reggae tune to a big guitar-stoked crescendo. Although there are a couple of big rock songs toward the end of the cd that could have been left on the cutting floor, the cd winds up on a souful, anthemic note with the piano-driven ballad, Higher Love. Three Legged Fox are as fun live as they are on cd; their next NYC appearance is 4/21 at Sullivan Hall, sharing a bill with Soldiers of Jah Army

April 6, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Three Legged Fox at Arlene’s, NYC 3/13/09

The band went on an hour late due to the unexpected arrival of an ambulance (a morbidly obese woman had passed out during the previous band’s set). Finally, at practically the stroke of midnight, Three Legged Fox took the stage, stopping the buzzkill in its tracks. This made-for-Coachella quartet from Philadelphia imaginatively bridge the gap between upbeat rock and roots reggae, delivering a fun set that completely energized the packed Friday night crowd.

 

Is what they do rock? Is it reggae? Whatever it is, it’s good. Their rhythm section is pretty straight up, without the one-drop on the drums or the busy basslines of, say, Bob Marley. Although they did a pleasantly catchy update on the No Woman, No Cry theme simply called Away. Frontman Kyle Wareham’s casual, low-key delivery made a nice contrast with his frequently stinging guitar work. Lead guitarist Mike Brody concentrated on adding tasty accents or doubling the rhythm, delivering smartly terse, bluesy solos in the few instances when he got the chance. They opened with Slow Down, a friendly, hook-driven command to loosen up. The title track from their just-released second cd Not As Far built to a big, beautiful, dramatic crescendo. Soul Thief was straight-up Badfinger powerpop; another slow, Marleyesque song called I Am brought the music down for a brief stab at a sort of dub interlude. The obligatory herb-smoking anthem came toward the end of the set, in this case a high-spirited cover of Ganja Weed by Springfield, Missouri band Jah Roots. Finally, about seven songs into the set, we got a minor key. Since roots reggae has always been socially conscious music, it would be interesting to see what these guys could do if they decided to get serious and tackle a deeper topic than, say, legalizing herb. 

 

But no matter – Three Legged Fox have an extraordinarily high ceiling. It’s hard to imagine them going anywhere but up. There’ll always be a market for party music, especially stuff this good and this tasteful: no fonkeh wotbo Dave Matthews blackface fakeness, no interminably wanky soloing, just good vibes and one catchy song after another. Give them a couple more years on the road, and see them now, before it costs you an arm and a leg at Reggae on the River or some other jampacked outdoor festival.

March 16, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments