Saturday, May 12, 2007

Album Review – Leopold and his Fiction


A few weeks back we neglected to post about a Swedish pop group that had so graciously reached out to us. And then, as if to thank us for not jumping the gun on our first featured group, along came San Francisco rock combo Leopold and His Fiction. Separately known as Daniel Toccalino and Ben Cook, the duo released its self-titled debut album in October of 2006 on their label, Native Fiction Records. Maybe it’s a little too heavy to call it destiny, but the name-link between Daniel and Ben of Leopold and us here at The Canals was enough to draw our attention. After a few listens of the album, the mystical connection began to pale in the light of the delicious mixed fruit smoothie of rock, country, and blues that they have to offer. Well, I guess their debut is less of a smoothie than an oil drum filled with moonshine and gasoline, but who’s to judge? The combination of Detroit guitarist and vocalist, Daniel, and Kentuckian drummer, Ben, allows for simultaneous creative bursts of unrestrained filth blues and subdued sunburned country.

A simple connection can be made between Leopold and his Fiction, The White Stripes, and The Black Keys, if not for anything but the use of a guitar and drum kit combo. The influence of delta blues, Detroit grunge, and twangy southern spit shine drawl spans across the three, but don’t let that muddle the field any. Look deeper and you’ll see that the differences transcend the similar appearances, as Leopold’s debut album shows a versatility and diversity all of their own.

Leopold and his Fiction is a collection of lo-fi jaunts and mesmerizing tunes that make you want to hike up your overalls, drift into warp-speed, and trip down the road in a tin can with your best friend. The first track starts off strong, almost indiscernibly strong. The thick guitar and distorted voice mix together to form some sort of an ΓΌber-riff, and packs a punch that may turn off the more laid back, countrified listeners. The wail of the chorus of this track, She Ain’t Got Time, pulls itself from the depths of the grunge and pays homage to the love-lost tales of long past blues singers. From that launch pad of grungy Detroit rock, a wellspring of blues and country busts forth, letting the album slowly ramble its way back into the Kentucky half of the duo. The unforgiving guitar riffs and pounding percussion are soon replaced by down-home slides and picks in songs like Gonna Be Your Boy and Miss Manipulation. On the technical side of things, many of the group’s musical choices keep the album from sounding like just a drummer and a guitarist. Daniel’s use of mic distortion and additional instrumentation on some tracks keeps the album from feeling hollow or sparse, a potential pitfall of minimalist groups. Ben’s skillful drumming surpasses the abilities of many other similar duos (i.e. a certain Ms. White), and provides an able backbone for each song on the album. The curious forty-second pause before the unusually fragile final track, Broken Down Blues, allows for close listeners to take a breather and reflect on the album for what it is: an unforgettable boxcar ride of rock with a strong, bold mug of hard cider in your hand.

Leopold and his Fiction – She Ain’t Got Time
Leopold and his Fiction – Gonna Be Your Boy
Leopold and his Fiction – Miss Manipulation

I strongly suggest that you buy Leopold and his Fiction here.


-Benjy

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

holy cats!!

danny said...

makes me proud to be a canal

Aus said...

I love how you guys keep scratching each others' backs. Speaking of backs, how badass was Lost. That show is back on an upswing I'm telling you!

Benjy said...

from now on, lost is the only topic for these comment boxes