Monday, January 4, 2010

Cuckoo for The Headlocks

Congrats guys. You did it. The Headlocks are the second musical act to receive an award from the Staten Island Dump, which I guess could be called a Dumpy. Dead Set on Destruction made a mad dash at first, coming up a few votes shy, but for now let me say some nice things about the champions, SI musical heroes, and second recipient of the Dumpy: The Headlocks.

Starting off as a bare bones folk group a few years back, Rob Carey, Frank Duffy, Frank Cavallo and some guy John on bass began the long arduous journey that brought them to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Mercury Lounge.

Last summer, the group was holed up in a Brooklyn studio trying to put together this release. Cuckoo Bird is both ramshackle hillbilly blues, tender American folk, gentle ballads, and shout-a-long Stones rock all crammed into one album. A gentleman named Million Dollar Bill helped produce this album into a stellar mix of instruments that goes down easy and clings to you with repeated listens.

There's an element of storytelling to these songs as well. In addition to the catchy sing-a-long chorus, "Driving in the Dark" tells the tale of a road trip gone wrong. "Freeze the Frame" asks us to step back an contemplate our surroundings. The song crescendos into a chorus that decries the local milieu with a half-scream "Never seen a scene so petty / getting in it's own way / wanna freeze the frame for a moment."

"Another Flood" is cheerfully upbeat with goofball lyrics and a wild harmonica lead that conjures Dylan's "Maggie's Farm." Cuckoo Bird descends on a somber note with "It's a Wonderful Life," an earnest reverie about the unavoidable toil of everyday experiences.

All in all, it's a wonderful release. Marked at times by humor and self-deprecation the songs are crammed with instruments but fall back on the inventive lyrics and songwriting of its core members. The Headlocks load the car up with gas and invite you along for the ride. You can't be sure where they're going, but there's only one way to find out.

1 comment:

  1. that guy named john is john nielson and i gotta say he is the happiest musician i've ever played with. on top of that he has some sick chops - gotta be oe of the best players on s.i. hands down.