You must be young to get old

There are all sorts of tricks a producer can do to make a band sound bigger. Overdubs, multitracked vocals, distortion, reverb . . . in the end, though, if a band is skinny in the middle there's just not much to be done. That hole cannot be filled by trickery alone.

Idiot Grins featuring the Byrd Sisters
State of Health
(Snug Harbor)

Idiot Grins is thick. Thick with horns, thick with a big fat bass, thick with a belter of a singer and funky backup singers, and simply thick in that whole 70s soul-funk-rock-roots-disco stew. More r&b than Lambchop, but the intent seems to be the same: Take a passel of classic sounds and make something new.

Because this is modern music. Steeped in the glorious past of American music, to be sure, but Idiot Grins isn't a retro act. These ideas are connected in ways I haven't heard before. The songwriting is spectacular--and these songs would sound great no matter what style a performer might use.

So, yes, by all means let's call this "classic." But just that. These songs have the beef to weather the years, and the performances here are powerful. Sometimes an album starts playing, the mind relaxes and the word "yes" floats in space. This is a hot bath of loveliness.

Jon Worley

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