You know what’s great about a musician like Tom Waits? Aside from being a great songwriter, he has made a musical career out of simply doing his own thing, not content to change his vocals or music style to fit into whatever happens t be the prevailing trend (this is a guy who was signed by David Geffen alongside 70’s country rockers like The Eagles and Jackson Browne, and said fuck it, I’m going to use my whiskey-soaked vocals to make sad bastard lounge music for barflies).
Same thing with the Boston band Morphine; the group decided to mix alt rock with a saxophone, while everyone else was wrapping themselves in flannel. That in mind, Austin’s Mr. Lewis and the Elephant 5 simply sound like a band trying to come across as odd and quirky, well, simply for the sake of sounding odd and quirky.
On Delirium Tremendous, the band’s sophomore effort, they come off sounding more like Morphine or Tom Waits cover band than a group serious about forging their own path. The dozen tracks that make up the record each rely on mumbled, dark lyrics rolling out over smoky bar jazz and hints of polka, but there is little to distinguish one song from the previous one. By then end, you’re just glad the ride’s over. You’re going to have to chase this one with Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs just to get cleanse the pallet.
Mr. Lewis and the Funeral 5 – Delirium Tremendous/12 tracks/Chicken Ranch/2011