I thought this was going to be much more of a jazz album than anything else. I guess that was due to the fact that SSM is an acronym much as Medeski, Martin, and Wood. Don’t be confused; when “Exit Strategy” starts out, all that one is hit with is a very noise and loud band in the rockabilly meets rock tradition. In a sense, the band reminds me of acts like Huey Lewis and the News mixed with Tremor Tremor; the craziness present in any one track on this self-titled disc is enough to fuel an entire disc of B-52s escapades. “Ain’t Love” is a track that crackles with energy, and it shows the beauty of SSM.
This beauty is that the band may try to stick to a time signature or other form of musical rule, but will eventually bubble up and over any constraints that are put against them. Each of the tracks have pleas to popular radio, but the oftentimes-angular and off the wall sound of SSM will ensure them play only on Dr. Demento and college radio stations across the United States. This is not a bad thing; the band exudes glee with each track on this disc, and it is easy to tell that the band is having fun throughout. When the band reduces the amount of “crazy” derivations from the norm and just leaves the fuzz draped over their simple brand of rock, a track like “Sick” results.
In many ways, compared to the much more active and spastic tracks that surround it, “Sick” is bland. However, “Sick” may just be the track that is needed for SSM to break their sound big; I can imagine this be #1 on the NME charts for weeks. The band seems to settle down slightly for the middle half of their album; “Candy Loving” is a track that continues with many of the same styles and sounds that were presented on the first half of the disc, but what was just out there in previous tracks is distilled down into something that is catchy beyond belief. One does not need to be a fan of sixties and seventies rock to SSM, but it will help. The band has so shrouded itself in the clothing of a previous era that there is little to tie them to the current; the band has talent, but struggles maintaining their relevancy alongside music of the current time. Still a fun disc, any way one cuts it.
Top Tracks: Exit Strategy, 2012