Lionize - Superczar and the Vulture (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Superczar and the Vulture (2011)

Pentimento Music Company

There's a scene in Ghost World in which Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi's characters go to a bar to hear some blues/ragtime music. They end up getting saddled with an obnoxious bar band instead. That band is unironically called Blues Hammer, and they are unironically terrible. Blues Hammer is a blues band the way Lionize is a funk/reggae band. They're both really just bar bands.

Sure, the group's new album, Superczar and the Vulture, has some pretty excellent dub elements (the jammy "Self Propelled Experience Approximator" is great ska fun). But sooner or later, the band comes back to "dumb rock" mode. The songs aren't about really about anything (sample lyric: "When I was a baby / My momma paid me with gravy"). The vocals are obnoxious and kill the songs. Take "Trustafarian." This song contains a lengthy, thoroughly rocking jam-out section. I could see it being a live show highlight. But the lyrics/vocals keep dragging it down to stupid depths.

Indeed, if Superczar has one fatal flaw, it's the vocals. The music, while sometimes too jam band-y for its own good at times, is still accomplished and occasionally even achieves stoner rock greatness. But the songs are stuck in this weird in between place. They either need to be jammier--epic horn slices and dub drones are consistently the record's highlights--or more serious and focused. Because right now, Superczar is just dumb.

What drives me up a wall is the way the band has roped in such talent around them. The players are clearly technically proficient. They're signed to Pentimento Music Company, Tomas Kalnoky's label (Streetlight Manifesto/ex-Catch 22). J. Robbins (Office of Future Plans/ex-Jawbox/ex-Burning Airlines) produced Superczar. That kind of backing needs better results.