Quirky. Genre crossing. Unconventional. Squeeze-bot is a band difficult to classify into any particular genre. Infusing eccentric instrumentation including accordion (Todd Hildreth), banjo (Mick Sullivan), tuba (Brandon Johnson), and toy drums (Meg Samples), Squeeze-bot ventures effortlessly between jazz, bluegrass, and rock genres. I have yet to hear anything quite like them. If you melded Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Astor Piazolla, and throw in a bit of pop rock flare you have Squeeze-bot.
Squeeze-bot's new album is "Sweet Dreams Are Made of Squeeze." This is their second cd following the release of their 2008 self-titled album. On "Squeeze-bot" the band's sound was strongly gypsy jazz influenced with a hint of bluegrass. This new album reveals their musical evolution over the years now featuring pop and rock covers such as Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics, Funkytown by Lipps Inc., Across the Universe by the Beatles, and their notorious cover of The Price is Right. Their sound has emerged from this album with a new and funky rock essence. It's quite good and innovative.
Squeeze-bot has cleverly taken these cover songs and made them their own. Sweet Dreams is the first track on the album and the opening imagery is brilliant. The song starts with some whistling, watery sounding ambience in the background, and a vocal line comes in (the only one you will hear on the whole album), "One of them plays the tuba. One of them plays the tiny drums. One of them plays the banjo. One of them plays accordion." You literally feel like you are slipping into Squeeze-bot Dreamland.
My other favorite track is their cover of Funkytown. This is how disco music should have been played. They took this song to a whole other place. The banjo and accordion start off the song then the tuba and drums kick in. The tuba's syncopated bass line and four-on-the-floor drumming is super groovy laying a nice background for the accordion and banjo lines. The tuba also has some nice slide effects simulating a synthesizer. Squeeze-bot is inventive and doesn't need electronic devices to play disco music. Throughout the song I kept hearing this cool twanging in the background and couldn't figure out what it was. Johnson and Mat Murphy informed me that Johnson and Sullivan used two differently pitched jaw harps, a type of plucked idiophone. You know you are too cool for school when you are playing jaw harp on a rock album with a banjo, accordion, tuba, and toy drums.
This cd is definitely a must listen to and has jumped to the top of my favorites list. The album was released digitally January 29th on iTunes, but I recommend getting a physical copy if not just for the original cover art. Squeeze-bot is having two CD Release Parties. You should attend one and pick up a cd.
February 22, 2013 @ 11pm
MEAT, 1076 E. Washington St., Louisville, KY 40206
February 24, 2013 @ 8pm
Nach Bar, 969 Charles St., Louisville, KY 40204
The February 24th performance will sadly be Johnson's last performance with Squeeze-bot, but fear not, the torch will be passed into the good hands of tuba player, Mat Murphy.
Pictures: courtesy of Squeeze-bot.