The Norman Transcript

N-town reviews

March 14, 2014

Music review: Eddie Ate Dynamite is explosive, twisted listen

NORMAN — Musician: Jason Vivone and the Billy Bats

Album name: Eddie Ate Dynamite

Why you should listen: All you have to do is glance at this album’s cover art to know it’s going to be a twisted listen. A stick of high explosive in a hot dog bun on grandma’s red and white check tablecloth is certifiably bent. The picture goes to title track “Eddie Ate Dynamite” (“Then he asked me for a light”). It’s a novelty tune that takes on a surreal quality half way through the number with a church lady-style choir chanting, “Eat that dynamite!”

Band leader Jason Vivone counts six Billy Bats under his direction and two of them are female vocalists utilized to tremendous effect. Based in Kansas City, they beg the question just what the hell is going on in that ostensibly conservative town. This is the kind of music that ruffles traditional feathers with the Blues Society set.

“Analog” is a slithering hymn to the joys of old school recorded music. It’s complete with Vivone preacher-hollering about being, “At home with the crackle and hiss/ You know I loved it since I was a kid.” Arrangements, vocal phrasings and slick guitar licks are clever across all these original compositions. Sometimes it’s not even the singing that sings. In 1940s wolf whistle tribute “Cut Those Apron Strings,” uber-cute girly spoken word makes the song sparkle. Similarly, “Where Did the Day Go?” is a bizarre instrumental strut punctuated with that mundane verbal question. The strong dose of offbeat in these grooves brings to mind Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks who played KC area joints back in the day. Vivone takes aural weird to an even higher level. The sense of humor, virtuosity and esoteric musical references on “Eddie Ate Dynamite” are fearless in making blues a blast.

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