Drumheller Wives

Drumheller’s second release sees them fulfilling the potential of their debut from last year. The talent level in this Toronto band is immense — great players all, each with very individual styles. Their debut disc didn’t really add up to a cohesive whole despite some quality tracks, but Wives improves on the foundation. The difference is palpable even in the first tune "Drip Drop March,” where the head implodes into a slow crescendo of burnished tones. More attention is paid to instrument voicing this time around. This is particularly important with expressive players like guitarist Eric Chenaux, trombonist Doug Tielli and bassist Rob Clutton in the mix. The most notable member is Chenaux, whose unusual choices for "jazz” guitar tones differ from any other jazz guitarist I’ve ever heard. His diseased work with a whammy bar coupled with Tielli’s often rheumatic tones on ’bone lend a more than slightly seasick atmosphere throughout, which subverts the many traditional elements of which Drumheller are masters. "Underside of a Table” is a drunken walk in the park which Chenaux graces with a distorted yet compact tone. "Skullsplitter” is a bossa larf that drummer Nick Fraser unassumingly chops up, and is one example of West in the spotlight with his sweet tone. Once again, Drumheller show facility with old-time-y jazz rhythms, such as the lighthearted swing of "Porch” complete with woodblock-like patterns from Fraser. But it’s where the players come together in "how’d they make that sound?” unison where the ensemble are at their peak. Drumheller are just getting started. (Rat-Drifting)