Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Album Review: Surprise Me Mr. Davis - That Man Eats Morning For Breakfast

To state that the new Surprise Me Mr. Davis record, That Man Eats Morning For Breakfast has been a long time coming would be a great understatement. The group, made up of The Slip and Nathan Moore released their last EP in 2005. Fans of the band know that these “new” songs have been thoroughly road-tested and actually recorded since 2008, and have been eagerly awaiting their recorded release. Well, that day has come, albeit two years later. What started off as a collaboration between two sets of musicians has clearly grown into something much bigger. While it used to sound like The Slip backing the songs of Nathan Moore, Surprise Me Mr. Davis has matured into a full-fledged rock and roll tour-de-force. That Man Eats Morning For Breakfast kick starts with “Roses In Bottles” an interesting choice for an opening track due to its noticeable complexity and lack of traditional song structure. If we listen intently however, the perfect harmonies of singers Brad Barr and Nathan Moore shine in unison. Barr’s masterful guitar lines trace the lyrical harmony beautifully, while drummer Andrew Barr adds subtle color to the song by hammering his skins with Moroccan shakers, rather than traditional drum sticks. “Roses In Bottles” is a true embodiment of the band. They make music with layers. Music that is understood best upon multiple listens, so that before you know it, you can’t get the songs out of your head.

In true Surprise Me Mr. Davis fashion, the band shifts gear completely on the funked-out protest rocker “Sissyfuss”. Nathan and Brad proudly exclaim, “I ain’t pickin’ up no peaches no, no peaches no. Not for no dollar a day” while Marc Friedman tosses out heavily fuzzed-out bass fills, never opting for a traditional low-end bass line. Brad gives us a perfect mix of his old school jazz guitar days mixed with his more current progressive guitar stylings during a ripping and completely unique solo. The pace is slowed just a hair on the ballad “One Sick Knave”, which is arguably the gem of the album. The tune illustrates the collaborative songwriting maturity that Nathan and Brad have been working towards for over six years now. Lyrics like “Well you follow the queen, but you never once saw her face. So you started running even though you weren’t being chase” are proof of the two songsmith’s growth as writers. The track slowly builds before the band reaches musical climax and Brad tosses out another shredding and heavily distorted guitar solo.

“Emily Green” finds Surprise Me Mr. Davis donning musical costumes from the pop heavy, harmony-laced ‘60s era, while Moore croons of love and loss on the haunting ballad “Joelle”. The album ends perfectly as Surprise Me Mr. Davis sing of life on the road on “Home Away From Home”. It may only be a seven song EP, but That Man Eats Morning For Breakfast is an accurate indication of a band tapping into their potential as of 2008. Now its 2010, and hopefully someday soon Surprise Me Mr. Davis will finally bless us with their true sophomore album.

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