Relix featured Chicago-based Rebecca’s Statue in its “On the Edge” section. Should I have been wary just from that? Yes. I was never a fan of the Dead, Phish, or any of those other jam bands that have legions of fans following them around the country because they seemingly have all the time in the world and nothing too strenuous to commit to other than grooving. Feh.
From the pretentious album title down to its retro-hippie cover art, Drinking from the Water Clock is another venture down jam-band lane. So grab your Frisbees, strap on that hemp anklet, and even yank out the hackysack for old time’s sake. As Led Zeppelin so aptly put it long ago: “We’re Gonna Groove”. If only it were that simple. Rebecca’s Statue seems to take the most stereotypical aspects of all the jam bands and magnifies them tenfold, creating a veritable Cherry Garcia stew (ha).
So yes, if you’re expecting elongated intros, guitar noodling galore, and a strained sense of “funking out” or “jazzing it up”, then you have definitely come to the right place. Step inside and rest your ears upon “Heart of the Son”, which winds its way around seven minutes of Mike Grill’s attempts at copying the Allman Brothers with results that would make Duane weep (in a pained way). And why is he trying to sound like Darius Rucker in the vocal department? It’s anyone’s guess, but Hootie’s ghost is invoked enough times here to make you want to go out and destroy a few golf carts.
If that song’s not long enough for you, then there’s always the twelve minutes of “Simple Times”, which not only stretches the listener’s patience, but retreats in the opposite direction of “Heart of the Son” by featuring some amazingly flat vocals. Wet your whistle with the song’s Holiday Inn lounge groove and sing along with “Not too long ago, I remember what it was / I was sixteen lookin’ for a buzz / Robbie turned me on to ancient dancin’ moves / It took some time to finally shake my shoes / But when I did, I tried it all night / I danced like they did before they had a fight / But I was dyin’ inside”. Oh yeah. Twelve minutes highlighted with the chorus “Simple times for simple folks / We don’t mean to rock your boat”. Somebody call up Manhattan Transfer quick!
It just occurred to me that Rebecca’s Statue tries to be eclectic in that same annoying way the Josh Dodes Band of recent VH1 Bands on the Run fame attempts to be. Plenty of collective syncopated groove and interlocking rhythm but no real substance or satisfying musicality. I wonder if they have added a couple of annoying dancing girls to facilitate their performance. I think a female presence could definitely pick up the pace of such snoozers as “Starfish” with its goofy sitar stylings and “Backstreet Mary”, which clocks in at another ungodly nine minutes and hits us with such banalities as “Mary walks in the back alley night / A faceless wonder baby, full of life / Walks up to me with her hair hangin’ low / Holes in her jeans and tracks in her arms—Backstreet Mary”. “Sally Can’t Dance” this is not, although I’m sure the limp wah-wah guitar lines featured here would have even made Lou Reed proud back in 1974.
So I’m sure you’re wondering, are there any short songs on this album? Glad you asked. Yes there are a handful, ranging from the slightly-over-a-minute “Falling” to the half-a-minute “Databass”. Both are just as painful as any of the epics here, simply because the band can’t get one solid groove out of its pocket for all of its heavy groove intentions. “Falling” attempts to sound like a stoned-out delicate instrumental complete with gently breaking waves in the background while “Databass” trips over its klutzy rhythm and annoying guitar. In between are such moderate numbers like “Uncle Charlie”, in which the band tries to do a double-time blues jam featuring a gravelly vocal and a guitar in the right channel that can’t shut up and even more stoned pointlessness (with watery sound effects again!) on “You Won’t Know Me”. If these guys could break away from the listless guitar lines, laid-back bongos and dopey lyrics they might be able to keep someone awake for more than a minute. Ah, but I forgot that Rebecca’s Statue is a jam band. Thanks for reminding me.
I hate to say it (do I really?) but Drinking from the Water Clock is hands down one of the worst albums I have had to listen to and review this year. Not even the goofiness of Dog Fashion Disco or Flybanger can touch the mediocrity that surrounds this album. I’m not even certain that hardcore jam-band fans would find this stuff appealing, no matter what Relix might like to print in their mag. All I can say is, bring along some No Doz when playing this one. Even at full volume.