Since Faith No More shut the doors to the world as a creative unit, Mike Patton has acted like a musical chameleon. Raving mad some would say, a genius others would argue. Whether in the shape of Fantomas, Mr. Bungle, his own good name or, indeed, Tomahawk, the man's been screaming, snorting, gargling, humming, shouting or crooning his way through his life. To be honest, I haven't been entirely aligned with Patton's creative output the last, say, decade or so.
Mostly, I've been hit by either indifference or irritation when I for some reason have been exposed to any of the weird projects he's been involved in. It's highly frustrating when you consider the fact that I regard the man as one of the biggest talents of the music business and at the core of it all a wonderful singer.
So it was with some anxiety I accepted to do the review of this the latest release by Tomahawk. Much to my relief 'Oddfellows' consists of a bunch of SONGS. The Tomahawk lineup is completed by former Helmet drummer John Stanier, bassist Trevor Dunn and Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison, and the team is a winning one! It's almost obvious that there has to be some madness in material involving Patton - the opening and title track is has a bit chaotic, but only a little bit.
What happens next is that the song Stone Letter draws a lot of parallels to 'King for a Day...' and the joy will not end for yours truly! Yes, perhaps it's sad and I'm conservative, but fuck it! I miss someone to create music like this! I.O.U. has a tad of the same feel, but with a deep, slow rock drive. White Hats/Black Hats smells of 'Angel Dust', a wee bit frantic, but with subtle soul choir in the background and a Patton almost screaming, however never going over the top. Which I like.
A Thousand Lies shows Patton in complete control, in a quiet song which has a touch of The Raveonettes (Danish band, managed to gain some popularity in the States and the UK). Rise Up Dirty Water starts out quietly hectic, low key drumming, snapping fingers and a crooning Patton. Turns into frantic boogie rock and then back into the crooning. Not the greatest hit in my world, but still quite funny.
The Quiet Few has a touch of 'Angel Dust' and a nice rock drive on top. It has one of those insisting screaming bits which borders on the annoying.
I Can Almost See Them is a spaghetti western tune of sorts. Nice.
South Paw could've been on a 'King For A Day...' single b-side. Lovely galopping rhythm work by Stanier and Dunn. All in all another fine tune. Choke Neck is one of those tunes where you have the feeling that the band's about to explode without actually during it, even if they're bloody close. Great with-held tension.
Even if it has a touch of reggae and pop in the vocal performance, Waratorium is a rock tune with a cool drive, whereas Baby, Let's Play starts out with a slightly creepy choir and Patton's crooning and Mr. Bungle like back drop. Again, this is not my favourite style, even if some weirdness has to be allowed in anything Patton's involved in.
Luckily, Tomahawk finish the ball with the cool rock tune, Typhoon. Up-tempo, diverse and, well, just a cool rock song, and basically what I personally needed to hear from Mike Patton to keep the faith.