Winning This Is an Ad for Cigarettes

[Ache; 2007]

Styles: experimental rock, avant-garde
Others: U.S. Maple, The Boredoms, Captain Beefheart

The ol' juggernaut of full-speed-ahead experimental freak rock has few practitioners these days, so when a new one appears on the scene, there is some level of excitement involved. And surely enough, Winning warrants excitement. Their commitment to the stripped-down three-piece rock combo line up nicely, and their "all cares to the wind" approach to making music is infectious. It's the traditional rock sound put through the blender. Chugging riffs that never quite come together give way to slackened strings reverberating give way to splintered funk grooves that stutter give way to... you get the picture. The traditional is challenged. New combinations are put forth. Everyone wins?

Almost. Being a fan of the genre, I guess I'm still hung up on my first experimental rock crush -- him being Captain Beefheart. Sure I loved the freewheeling possibilities of The Magic Band, but I also loved that distinctive voice and those delightfully absurdist lyrics. While absurdism can be found in the song titles for Winning, there is little distinction in the vocals. Andy Dixon is by no means a traditional singer, but his thin waver is kept relatively tame both volume-wise and lyrically. If he could skronk as well with his pipes as he can with his guitar, it would go a long way towards giving Winning a personality that would better match their moniker. That said, This Is an Ad for Cigarettes is still a worthwhile effort that has plenty to offer the open-minded rock fan who needs a break from verse-chorus-verse.

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