review by Michael McCarty
Take jazz, rock, soundtrack music, and a strong sense of humour; throw it in a blender - grind it into large chunks and you'll come out with something as wild and unique as the Quad City-based Metrolites. The debut of The Metrolites CD is a plethora of musical madness and eclectic genius. I wasn't too surprised that this five-piece band was able to pull off such a dynamite debut, they are compromised of some of the best musicians from the Iowa-Illinois area. Scott Morschhauser the lead singer and malletkat player was the former frontman of the band The Kabalas (a hep-cat polka band that wrote The Dybbuk, Planet Of The Apes Polka, and The Golem to name a few), Nervous Neal Smith on saxophone and vocals (also from The Kabalas), Kathleen Gallagher on guitar and backing vocals, Devin Kirby-Hanson on bass and backing vocals, and Josh Duffee on drums and percussion.
Just eight bars into In Spy-Fi and the listener knows that this is going to be a sonic treat of power jazz and lounge rock with a twist of lemon - shaken but not stirred. The disc consists of mostly instrumentals, the songs have a movie soundtrack quality to them. This is especially true with Gunfight At The Zombie Mineshaft which sounds like it could have been from the horror-western movies from the 1960s such as Billy The Kid Vs Dracula, and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter.
The same could be said for The Abominable Dr Vibes with the sleek 1970s' sound with a creepy underscore. The song would have fit well in the high camp horror films of The Abominable Dr Phibesand Doctor Phibes Rises Again (don't forget those films had jazz and Frank Sinatra music in them.) And this is also true with The Man In The Dorian Gray Flannel Suit. The spunky energy and satire could have been featured in such as The Picture Of Dorian Gray or The Man With The White Suit.
The Metrolites do a cover of the The Blob (the 1950s' flick about slimy Jell-O invader from outer space). The soundtrack song was originally written by songwriter supreme Burt Bacharach. The Metrolites are very faithful to the original version and that's what makes it so great. Morschhauser's energetic vocals and the finger-snapping rhythms mixed with a sexy sax and a liquid guitar make for mesmerising music.
The quintet have outrageous original compositions such as Cyclops Optometrist which contains the diabolically funny lyrics: "Who is that man with an eye for the ladies?/ Who is that man with the white coat on?/ Who is that man? Well, he's not a spy/ Girls cross his path and he'll give them the eye" I also love Middle Class Hell because the music is so damn catchy and the lyrics are so damn funny: "I got a house, I got a job/ I got a yard, I got a credit card/ I need new clubs 'cause my golf game's crap/ Here comes a friend to slap my back."
The debut CD by The Metrolites is one of the most infectious and melodic powerhouse bunch of songs I've heard in a long time. In Spy-Fi is filled with chaotic energy, zany humour and plenty of hip grooves. It's happy hour, so fire up the CD player and the blender - cheers!