Rob Kleiner, front man for Tub Ring kicks off this CD with a song (“Starving Ascetic”) that reminds me of “Camel Walk” by Southern Culture on the Skids. It’s got some Middle Eastern influence with funky keyboards and even a Jew’s harp. He continues the Southern Culture on the Skids feel with “Shot! By a Gun,” a song with the same sort of surf/swamp sounds that SCOTS is famous for.
Kleiner is not afraid to mix things up, that’s for sure. He blends polyrhythms with keyboards and seems to have a different sound for every song. “The Uninitiated” reminds me of a cross between some lounge/exotica group and the theme from I Dream of Jeannie. Some songs have a distinct Middle Eastern feel (“G’s H,” “Starving Ascetic”) while at least one song (“Tracking an Outlaw”) sounds like it belongs in a Sergio Leone film. He even throws in one “traditional” acoustic song (“For the Larsens”) that features some good guitar chops.
There is one song that absolutely freaked me out. I find “Ring Around the Rosie” more than a little creepy. At the beginning, some people are talking about crack and then you hear some kids singing “Ring Around the Rosie.” Only these aren’t the carefree, happy voices you’ll hear on a local school playground. These sound like the kind of kids you see in horror movies. You know, the dirty ones with vacant stares that just crawled out of the grave or something like that. I probably could have done without that song.
Overall, this is a pretty clever album. Kleiner shows a lot of range and makes it feel like you’re watching a movie that involves one story in the Middle East and another one in the Old West. I don’t think that Kleiner was targeting a mass market with this effort, but those who like a little challenge from their music will probably like this a lot.