Tomahawk’s last album, 2007’s Anonymous, was thought to be the last record as far as fans were informed, but what we didn’t know was that the group had set aside extensive, comprehensive tactics for an album influenced by founding member Duane Denison’s Native American concepts, which he had encountered while touring with the legendary Hank Williams III.
Finally, after six years, the band is back with the it’s fourth record, Oddfellows. Original bassist Kevin Rutmanis (a former Melvin) had parted ways, leaving an empty spot for the incredible Trevor Dunn, who has always been a favourite of mine; he just plain kicks ass!
Tomahawk’s latest effort easily traverses straight-up quasi-punk rockers with brooding, haunting melodies akin to Fantomas-lite, tempered by latter-day Faith No More. However, Dunn’s presence introduces a modicum of jazz architecture to the foundation of tracks like ‘Rise Up Dirty Waters’, and in doing so, doesn’t necessarily evolve Tomahawk’s sound but certainly elevates it some. All throughout Oddfellows, Dunn’s bass provides a warmth not necessarily found on the band’s first couple of releases.
As with any group that has a membership like Tomahawk’s, the word supergroup gets tossed around followed by a quick mention of who it is in the group that makes it so “super”. In Tomahawk’s case, its membership is comprised of Denison (The Jesus Lizard), John Stanier (Helmet, Battles), Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Trio Convulsant), and Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Mondo Cane, Lovage).
I sat down with Oddfellows and took everything in as deep as I could, I fell in love again (as always with a Patton record).
There is a Helmet-esque pounding on ‘The Quiet Few’ or the equally percussively propelled ‘Waratorium’ and ‘South Paw’, a track that also demonstrates Dunn’s powerful bass playing. After subsequent listens, the album opens up and sucks you in, especially during the quieter moments, the spaces in between the chaos, when subtleties and expressions bloom. Initial single ‘Stone Letter’ is a perfect example of both the madness and the calm with a finesse in their playing between Patton’s explosive chorus.
The haunting ‘A Thousand Eyes’ is creepy, gently luring you in and wrapping you up in a warm blanket only to reveal itself to be a straight-jacket, while other tracks such as ‘Rise Up Dirty Water’, ‘I Can Almost See Them’ and ‘Baby Let’s Play Dead’ are equally intriguing. ‘Baby Let’s Play Dead’ is by far my personal favourite track.
For more information on Tomahawk, visit http://www.ipecac.com/artists/tomahawk