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The Hot Stuff
Artist: Frank Lenz
Label: Northern Records
Length: 10 tracks, 34:45
Best known for his work with bands like Cush, Lassie Foundation, and Fold Zandura, Frank Lenz steps out from behind the drum kit and indulges his musical fantasies with one of the funkiest albums in a long time. He shows a real knack for recasting the sounds of his youth (the seventies) in a modern context. Cheesy music without the cheese. Kitsch without the kitschiness. Go figure. College radio is already all over this baby.
Musically, Lenz pretty much plays just about everything with some help from horn-maestro Matt Fronke, Chris Colbert on guitars, and a few others. Also, helping out in the writing area are label mate and long-time friend Campuzano, and soon to be discovered wunderkind, Richard Swift.
The disc starts off with the smooth and sultry title cut and its endorsement of good old-fashioned retro-seventies love. He continues this stroll down lovers lane with a couple of smoother grooves, "Freak Train" and "Crime on My Mind," where his vocals sound at times like a latter-day Joe Henry channeling the late Andy Gibb, with a little Burt Bacharach thrown in for good measure.
Then comes along the first of two tunes where Lenz takes a back seat to guest vocalist, and Vegas chanteuse, Bridget Bride. Her subtle and sultry voice is a real treat on "Electric Light Battleship," (and later on "Take the Wheel", the most "spiritual" song on the disc.) Wow, what a voice. This woman deserves her own record deal. Heck, give her her own label!
Lenz then takes on the pretentiousness of the whole indie rock scene in the sparse "Queen Bee of the Indiots" :
Are you still cool? After high school?Lenz takes back control of the vocals on "Soul Sound Revival," a song that will have you itching to take your honey out on the floor for a little Rollerboogie.
Lenz then takes a more pensive turn with "Tricycle" as he muses on a childhood gone by too fast. But then the slow jams and mellow horns return on "Line Dancer" as he sings about the road to stardom. And then the disc wraps up with a more drone-oriented tune, "Everlasting" that sounds more like something from Lenz's work with Charity Empressa.
All in all this is a great debut album from one of the hottest properties on the indie music scene, both as a performer and a producer. I look for more "hot stuff" in years to come.
Ken Mueller 2/11/2002