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Alpha Male Gorillas is a fantastic band name in a time of stale titles and cliché monikers. Their album No Working Title is quaint and the track names inspire a chuckle here and there. So, before we even turn the music on, this New York group has a few things going for it.
The album’s intro would make Jack Johnson proud: waves crashing in the background while a single acoustic guitar picks and flutters. “Beach Bum” tells the story of exactly who the title describes, living off the land (and water) in the most relaxed manner: “No money/no hurry/listen honey/I got no worries.” The irony is that writing a song about this might get you chicks, but actually living this lifestyle would get you arrested for vagrancy. The next track “Allergic To Work” starts off with a pipe hit and a dude calling in sick to his job, and the Sublime meets Cypress Hill act takes a turn for the worse. Rap does not suit this funky band and it should halt immediately. We get it: you like weed. Who doesn’t? Now write a good song, stoner.
The entire album continues in this manner, but with great care given to guitar harmonies and solos. This has to be the first album I’ve heard in an eon that starts most songs with solos, then features at least one more halfway through and another to close. The lyrics are really the sorest spot, but not the way they are delivered: the soulful range of their lead vocalist does not leave much to be desired. If only every other chorus didn’t rave about the benefit of herbal remedies, the listener might be able to take the work more seriously. AMG is talented, sure, but what they do with that skillset is virtually wasted by overcharged rap and silly lyrics.
The Weed Rock market has already been cornered by Cypress Hill and Kottonmouth Kings and numerous other bands that will enjoy being smoked out at every venue they ever play. Maybe that is the band’s goal and, if so, I am sure they will succeed, but white reggae without the essential reggae elements (struggle, overcoming oppression) doesn’t work if you just write about how much you hate the government and love marijuana. The post-Bush era rock acts should not be lingering onto the Rage Against the Machine riffs and anti-establishment lyrical content. This is a new century and there is a new opportunity for growth in all avenues of life, especially music. Doing something that’s been done better way before 2011 was not a smart move.
I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this album to anyone unless they have an equalizer function that removes overdone pot references. Give to your friends that are waiting for a new Pepper album, maybe they will like it.