Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pissed Off Mild

In 2004, Josh Martinez debuted the title track to his upcoming, self-titled album with his new live band, Pissed Off Wild.  And just seven years later, as off like a week ago, the album's finally come out.

The initial "Pissed Off Wild" appearance was on a label compilation album called New Recruits, and the band consisted of Josh on vocals, Peter Schmitt on bass and Kenten Loewen on drums.  In a 2009 interview with AWMusic, Josh concisely explained the impetus and concept behind this new group, "A live band that wasn’t like a cheesy Roots knock-off, that had it’s own sound and really widened my ability to tour and gain more festivals or bigger venues and play with rock bands. I just wanted to be able to have more looks and I listen to a lot more music than underground hip hop and that’s what was inspiring me. Having a live band was important to me to show I was really musically inclined and not just a rapper, it was a personal thing to not be pigeon holed because I could see that the window was narrowing."

Well, so like I said, that original "Pissed Off Wild" song does appear as the title track to this, their 2011 self-titled album, though some things have changed since then.

Firstly, the band is now a 4-man ensemble, with guitarist Jesse Waldman added to the mix.  And second, the band is actually no longer an ensemble at all anymore.  As the liner notes inform us, "By the time the Pissed Off Wild record was done, so was the band. Jimmy quit. Joey got married."  Yup, Pissed Off Wild is finished, and this album is their legacy.

Oh, and one more thing has changed since New Recruits - the song itself.  Lyrically, it's the same, but musically it's been quite revamped.  The original had that live band feel, sure, but it was smooth and laid back.  Here it's rocking, and all the good and bad things that term entails, with grinding guitars and Martinez shouting into a distorted microphone.

The song "Outlaws" that they recorded for the 2006 compilation album, Hue and Laugh and Cry is also on here.  But, curiously, the song from Camobear's 2007 label sampler, "The Pirhana" is absent.

Anyway, I don't know much I even like this album... it's another in an increasingly long list of cases where a talented, noteworthy MC reaches out to other indie artists who aren't nearly so outstanding to band together and for an uneven, mediocre project with more crossover appeal.  It's like Buck 65's last album, or those Z-Man albums I just reviewed a couple weeks ago...  Hell, Josh has even done this before with his other group, The Chicarones.  Yeah, Josh and Sleep have made some decent songs together; but you know who makes better ones?  Josh without Sleep.

So yeah, this is all kinds of garage band rockish.  It mostly sounds noisy and kind of annoying, and while Josh can still be a compelling writer/vocalist, you really have to strain to appreciate the good in a lot of these songs.  He also uses this album to experiment a lot, which sometimes results in some interesting twists on his vocal styles, and sometimes it just sounds like somebody who can't sing taking over the karaoke mic at your local bar.  Some songs are better than others, but at the end of the day, I just wanna hear Josh over some dope beats by Moves and Jel and those guys.

This album isn't terrible.  And if you're a serious Josh Martinez fan and you go in with tempered expectations that this won't be the next Buck Up Princess or World Famous Sex Buffet, you won't be disappointed.  But it was really more comforting than sad to read that this album is the closing of a chapter and not the beginning of one.  I know Josh said he wanted to branch out in ways like this to have more looks, but this... just isn't a good look.

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