Loscoe State Opera,
Dawnbird
(self-produced, 2000)

It didn't take long to realize this was going to be a kickin' album. After a few seconds of low-key, atmospheric mood-setting music to put you at ease with a distant flute and ethereal sound effects, Loscoe State Opera kicks into the traditional "Brian Boru's March" with enough oomph to knock off your socks.

As the first track rolls into a lively interpretation of "The Butterfly" and "Jennie's Chickens," you'll marvel at the way a pair of flutes will work with electric guitar and bass. The mix is fresh, wild and exciting, and by the time the first set screamed to a close, I wanted the Loscoe State Opera to be making an appearance my hometown now.

For the most part, the band manages to maintain that favorable first impression throughout the rest of the album. There are a few rough patches -- for instance, the less said about this rendition of "General Taylor" the better -- but it's fairly strong from start to finish. That said, there's no question the band's strongest suit is instrumental work -- most of the songs are good, but the tune arrangements are nothing short of brilliant. When the two flutes get in a jam ... whew! Put the CD on "repeat" and marvel at the joyful noise. And the final blast, a band original, will leave an attentive listener breathless by its explosive end.

The oddly named band from Derbyshire, England, owes its sound to Andy Martin (melodeon, accordion, backing vocals), Ben Daglish (flute, whistle, vocals), Kate Rounding (flute, snare drum, backing vocals), Tom Parratt (drums), Kev Fisher (bass, backing vocals) and Dave Everitt (guitar, vocals). Martin and Everitt co-produced the album, which was recorded in Nottingham and Derby.

I can't wait to hear what the Loscoe State Opera puts out next. Keep me posted, guys!

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 23 March 2002