Cincinnati “garage jazz” trio Animal Mother is made up of Josh Kline (tenor saxophone), Jon Massey (electric bass), and Matt McAllister (drums and glockenspiel) and formed in 2013 at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Following up its 2015 debut The Youth Will Rule!, the band recently released its second album Golf (cover art by Lizzy Duquette). Mixed by Minneapolis-based recording engineer Jason Orris, who has recorded artists such as The Bad Plus, Happy Apple, and Chris Speed, the album showcases the band’s varied, energetic sound and lively group dynamic. Animal Mother comes to Columbus for an exciting Dick’s Den double bill with local explorers Radarhill (new video here) on Sunday, October 22nd at 8pm. Cover is $5, and copies of Golf will be available for purchase. The band will be releasing the album digitally very soon, so stay tuned to their Bandcamp page for updates. Keep reading for my thoughts on an excellently adventurous album.
Golf consists of eight originals composed by McAllister that keep the listener guessing. After a few clicks, opener “Power Dance” jumps out of the gate and finds Kline soaring over the tight rhythm section before breakdowns, dramatic solos from Massey and McAllister, and a fiery return to the theme over the tune’s six minute length. “Rafterman” starts in a more somber tone, but Massey’s propulsive bass line garners electric energy from his partners, leading to a free improvised maelstrom. “Second Rodeo” covers a great deal of ground between Kline’s melody hopping over McAllister’s precise beat and a rousing, rocking insertion of “The Warm Sand Between Your Toes” by Ed Moss powered by a passionate Kline. The appropriately titled “Dream Fight” shifts restlessly, with moods and ideas appearing, developing, and giving way to new ones, including an exploring solo by Massey. McAllister’s snare keeps the solemn “The Boy With The Sad Dance” moving forward as Kline’s horn emerges from the haze. The mood stays on the darker side on “Movie Theater Hallway,” with the elastic rhythm spiriting Kline and Massey to weave and wander through evocative passages. The epic “New York, Movie, Trumpet” is mostly more upbeat, darting into an extended group improvisation that falls away and recovers slowly as Massey and Kline build momentum piece by piece with explosive results. The album ends with “Our Children’s Wabash,” where McAllister’s glockenspiel lends a dreamlike state for a contemplative close.
Golf is an intricate work filled with hooks, peaks and valleys that begs for repeated listens. Fans of modern jazz and improvised/free jazz will certainly find something to like here, as well as anyone looking for vibrant music that twists and turns. Check out 2015 live video of two album tracks, as well as a band profile: