Steve Lieberman – Psych Ward (CD)

I first wanted to apologize to Steve for not reviewing this disc any time sooner. I had promised eir a timely review of “Psych Ward”, one of eir latest CDs, and I completely dropped the ball. Anyways, here is our review of “Psych Ward”. The disc starts out with “Stigmatiz’d and Label’s”, a minute and a half romp that simultaneously introduces new listeners to Lieberman unique style as well as bridging the gap between this release and the rest in eir discography. The first track is also a little different from previous works of Lieberman’s in that there is a distinct dance (or funk) element married to the punk-typed vocals of eir.

“A Zit Named Saddam” is one of the first “hit-worthy” tracks on “Psych Ward”, with the drums eliciting easy comparisons to the denizens of the New York City punk scene of the late seventies. The echoing vocals and gritty mastering further places Lieberman into this camp, and this sound morphs slightly into a more Misfits type of sound during “Publicity Man”. It is during these more stripped-down tracks that Lieberman shines the brightest. When either the flute or other ancillary (read: not guitar or drums) instruments are added into the mix, it seems as if Lieberman struggles to tie all these additional elements into a cohesive sound. Later tracks on “Psych Ward” follow this stripped-down approach and are able to shine, however.

This is shown well during the Talking Heads-level of quirkiness fueled “An Hour To Masturbate”, which does have the flute present but little more beyond that. The resulting track bounces back and forth in a nice sense of chiaroscuro before ceding the floor to “Carrie In The Hover Round”. “Carrie” is one of the longest tracks on the disc (only missing that mark due to “Hallie In The Emergency Room”, “Spring’d” and “My Nite At (-10)”), but the focus provided the track by Lieberman is enough to keep individual listeners through the entirety of the track, rather than letting things fall apart. There has been progression from previous albums to “Psych Ward”, and I want to see how Lieberman continues to grow as an artist in the next few years.

Top Tracks: Fall Precaution, Jew In An Institution

Rating: 7.0/10

Steve Lieberman – Psych Ward / 2008 Self / 23 Tracks / http://wwww.gangstarabbi.com

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