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Angel City Dust by Steuart Liebig and the Mentones

Electric bassist Liebig has traveled a long and winding road to get where he is, including stints with Les McCann and Julius Hemphill and a bit of time studying classical composition and playing and writing symphonies and whatnot. None of that information prepares you for the onslaught that is the Mentones, a raging quartet that filters stomping blues and Americana through a tweaked, slightly Zornish avant garde prism. Let's elaborate.

The band is Liebig on electric bass, Tony Atherton on alto sax, Bill Barrett on chromatic harmonica and Joseph Berardi on drums, and from the opening salvo of "Fingeroo" I found myself searching the CD package and press notes to see who else was playing. There's no way four guys could be making this much noise! But they do, snaking through brutal unison lines, with Barrett overdriving his microphone ala classic Junior Wells. Toots Thielemann this ain't, my friends. Berardi's drumming is muscular and rock-inflected, and he and Liebig get deep into the groove, while fortunately avoiding the easy traps of funk. Check out the frenetic workout on "Locustland" or the greasy shuffle of "All Gone," and you'll get a sense of it. Even when they do approximate funk, like on "Fire and Ice," the groove turns on its head as Barrett goes to town.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Steuart Liebig and the Mentones
  • CD Title: Angel City Dust
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: pfmentum
  • Musicians: Tony Atherton (alto saxophone), Joseph Berardi (drumset, percussion), Bill Barrett (chromatic harmonica), Steuart Liebig (contrabassguitars)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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