Paul & Storm,
Gumbo Pants
(Murray Has, 2007)

For a comedy CD, Gumbo Pants actually has some enjoyable music. Even if one doesn't appreciate their humor (which is difficult to imagine), Paul & Storm are adept musical entertainers with a comedic bent. And what is so interesting about their third album is that they have such a vast range of musical styles.

It's difficult to tell if this is a comedy album or a musical survey. The styles are so broad and random, that they might as well have done a kitchen sink song. The croonerific "My Fantastic Plastic Girl" sounds straight out of old-timey radio (that is, if censors had allowed songs about relations with a mannequin and her "smokin' hot fiberglass booty"). Rockabilly is represented with "Gee, Mary Lou." "Nugget Man" is a stirring gospel-style song about the inventor of the chicken treat. And they deserve serious kudos for writing in "mechanically-recovered meat and anti-foaming products, reconstituted meat slurry and extra chicken skin for its binding properties" and keeping it pretty darn close to the song's meter. The Cole Porter-ish "Oh, No" is the perfect song for self-professed experts of everything. The nautical sing-along "The Captain's Wife's Lament" uses a particular homophone in a rather memorable manner (either way, what a mess).

Paul & Storm also have the remarkable ability to mimic musical artists, from the relatively easy marks of Bob Dylan and Aaron Neville to more difficult targets such as James Taylor and They Might Be Giants. Some go unnamed but are rather apparent, such as early REM in "Do You Recall" and Frank Sinatra with "Here's Looking at You" (except Ol' Blue Eyes never romanced livestock ... that we know of). Even obscure artists get a homage, such as '90s light rock band Extreme -- specifically their song "More than Words" -- in "More than Two." Others include Michael Crawford, the Allman Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel and I'm sure there are many more.

Their rejected commercial jingles are quite amusing, too. And I'm sure Paul & Storm are glad that they're protected by parody laws, otherwise I could see Olive Garden feeding their lawyers. Cool Whip and Sports Illustrated should consider running with their entries, though ... and fans of The Bob & Tom Radio Show will enjoy the lengthy final track (otherwise it's a lot of build-up for a punchline that isn't nearly as funny if you don't know who Chick McGee is).

While comedy is obviously subjective, Paul & Storm's technical capability -- musically speaking -- cannot be denied. This isn't two funny guys with guitars strumming along to amusing little ditties. Instead, Gumbo Pants has great production values with an abundance of supporting instruments (as much as an orchestra in a few songs) and background vocals. And this album is jam-packed with 30 tracks, so fans will get quality as well as quantity.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
C. Nathan Coyle

10 November 2007

what's new