1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“The Coyote Poets weave spoken-word with original jazz and rock compositions.
This exciting and emotional art form is a unique concert experience featuring outstanding musicianship and award winning poets. The sound is fresh, not quite retro, somewhere between rap and rhapsody, beat and bebop, reminiscent of early Zappa in spirit, and popular with all types of audiences.
We call it 'FolkaDelic'!
Instrumentation includes: electric and acoustic guitars, violins, electric fretless bass, flutes, oboe, clarinet, English horn, banjo, keyboards, congas and other percussion toys. Multiple male and female vocalists create a lush and diverse sound.
CPU has enjoyed sharing audiences with bands like Uncle Monk, Potcheen, Blue Turtle Seduction, Public Property, New Vintage and Catfish Whiskey.
The Coyote Poets began as a couple of jazz musicians with a radio show and a computer who decided it would be lots more fun to play live, and between some cosmic synchronicity and Craig's list grew into the musically poetic troupe of today.
Their first three CDs received worldwide airplay on hundreds of NAR and CMJ stations, and critical acclaim in publications as diverse as JazzTimes, The Denver Post, Cadence, Progression, and Tandem / Corriere Canadese as well as Ytsejam.com, AllAboutJazz.com, O'S Place.com and other web sites, and enthusiastic comparisons to artists as diverse as Ken Nordine, Frank Zappa, Ornette Coleman, Gong and Massive Attack.” (Coyote Poets, 2009).
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
First of all I am not sure you could classify this as progressive music. It is progressive in the sense that Frank Zappa was progressive but definitely does not fit any Genesis/Yes/Pink Floyd/ELP standard.
However, that being said it is still good music and especially interesting poetry, if you don’t mind the liberal political message. I don’t so I enjoyed most of the commentary. The music on the other hand is wonderful blend of poetry with folk, jazz and some blues thrown in.
Irrational Anthem – Starts the disc with spoken poetry introducing the band’s mission in a funky kinda way.
Criminal – One of my favorite songs on the album. Good 1950/60s kinda jazz beat. Sounds like they had fun with this one. Good drums mixed with fun vocals and lyrics. “Everyone’s a criminal, unless you got the money honey…” “Someone owns the water…oil…someone the sky, and trees…government is dead, corporations rule..” That’s the theme that permeates the entire album.
Tender – Is a very slow sad song similar to Tom Waits, but this time with a female singer. One of my least favorite songs on the album.
Surfin@Stonehenge – This song starts off with flute or English horn. I got a visual of a Leprechaun surfing in Stonehenge! Then the “Dick Dale” guitar riff kicks in to give you the feeling of surfing. Neat arrangement. Leprechauns surfing at Stonehenge…very original. No lyrics, but a cute bouncy tune to pick you up after the last one.
Yes or No – This is almost a Mark Knopfler kind of country ballad. Not bad, but I am still looking for the connection to prog. “Charcoal rains of Heaven, soldiers fill the sky. It takes a million dollars to make the children cry.” Political, with a country violin supporting a male vocalist with guitar. There is a jazzy part in the middle, but it follows the Knopfler sound through most of the song.
Callin’ You Home – The title track. Reminds me of a 1960’s piano bar type of sultry/sexy romantic number. The female singer is supported with that climbing bass, violin flute, and piano. Sets a great late night mood for cocktails in a poetry/music bar. It’s like you walked into a bar in New Orleans in the middle of the 60s. Would like to see this one live.
Russian Percussion – This one is a vocal round using the names of famous Russian literary giants in a vocal round. “Kafka, Pushkin, Chekov, Tolstoy Dostoevsky.”
Disturbance - Mostly poetry set to background music and noise. There is a familiar banjo supported with violin and maracas. Almost reminded me of some of Jim Morrison’s senseless poetry, though worse. “Nobody sings that **** anymore.” Don’t we wish. This is in a tie with the Tender song for the worst song/poetry on the album.
I Don’t Know Birds – Luckily they know how to follow bad songs with good. This is something that belongs in an old John Wayne Western, complete with banjo and violin. “I don’t know birds very well, but I do know you.” Simple and a cute bouncy song to sit back and square dance to, if you like that kinda thing.
Canonization - This has an almost Led Zep, Black Country Woman, opening to it. Which I enjoyed. Definitely blues inspired. Then the violin, flute, slide guitar. “Into the heart of hit and run...into the eyes of a saint..” Male and female vocals switching in and out in a round. Interesting.
Jesus Debbie (Shut the *uck Up) – One of the funniest songs on the album. The lyrics are great. They must have had allot of fun with this. Kinda of a bluesy, country, folk song. They even throw a little flute in just to jazz things up even more. Danceable song with fun lyrics. “Debbie comes from Wheatland Texas, on the battle of the sexes, drama queens all she knows from living in the picture shows. Every time her heart gets broken, who do you think she calls up first? Wining, dining, done me wrong, you know it’s Debbie’s favorite song. She calls me on the phone, she’s a love sick puppy, and I say, Jesus Debbie, shut the *uck up!”
Burnt Down – Nice slow bluesy number to end the album. Reminded me so much of the song they used to play at the end of Saturday Night Live back in the 70s, or any number of Ray Charles classics, though not as powerful. Very good piano with all of the fixings.
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
Since these guys are primarily poets, the lyrics are important here. The music is folksy, jazzy, and full of liberal political views. The message is have fun and listen to our poetry set to music.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
I doubt this will change much in the genre. I am not sure how this CD became part of a progressive rock review list. I doubt anyone who listens to pure progressive rock will ever hear this album.
That being said, it is a good album for the music it provides. If you want a change of pace and to listen to mostly fun folk poetry set to music you will like this one.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Yes. I really enjoy listening to the music on this disc. However, I am not sure others; especially pure prog rock listeners, will like this as well.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Reviewed by Prof on April 30th, 2009