Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Shitake Monkey, Street Beef

Shitake Monkey’s debut album “Street Beef” is all over the place.  In a good way.  Musical styles, instrumentation, sound effects, vocal styles, studio wizardry, whatever, these guys shitake monkeydon’t care what it is or where it comes from as long as they can put it together to make a good song.  Much of the music on “Street Beef” is hip-hop or R&B influenced but very little of it adheres to the formulaic and unimaginative versions of those two types of music that currently dominate the music industry’s by the numbers, mass produced product. 

Shitake Monkey are Peter Wade (keyboards and turntables), John Hill  (bass) and Caleb Shreve (vocals, guitar).  In addition to their roles as musicians, Wade and Shreve have impressive credentials as engineers, remixers and producers.  The trio bring their musical and production skills together to create a CD that is typified by stylistic variety, off-kilter yet propulsive beats and very finely tuned layering of all kinds of sounds, instruments and effects.  The layering is so dense that you can still hear new things after having listened to these tunes many times.  They also have a deft hand in the studio so that the music usually doesn’t sound kludgy and thick as is sometimes the case when people with less skill try and layer a zillion things into a track.

It’s not all good.  “Street Beef” is overlaid with a veneer of goofiness that occasionally becomes so juvenile that it’s embarassing.  Fortunately these interludes are short enough to end before you are fed up enough to switch to a different CD.  Although brief and intermittent, they do, however, mar an otherwise fine recording.

Given the range of the band members’ activities outside of Shitake Monkey, “Street Beef” may be a one-off.  However, there is more than enough talent and skill here to justify another album.  Be nice if they continue.  Be especially nice if they lose, or at least learn to control, the junior high mentality along the way.

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07/16/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

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