The Craig Torso Show
Estonian Breakfast Strategies” (2021)
An odd band name, coupled with a curious looking album cover is sometimes reason enough to check out the content.
And that leads us to The Craig Torso Show, whose moniker is swiped from The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’s “The Craig Torso Christmas Show.” The East Coast based band’s debut album, “Estonian Breakfast Strategies” features a sepia photograph of a rooster perched next to a little boy smoking a cigarette. Strange indeed, but as always it is the music that matters and there is definitely much to admire and appreciate here.
Comprised of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Ignatius, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Joe Merklee, and drummers Steve Bartashev and Andrew Feyer, these four fellows practice a smart and snappy strain of pop rock that often references the sound and vision of bands like REM, Let’s Active and The Replacements.
But “Estonian Breakfast Strategies” filters these influences into a modern presentation, stressed by ripe energy and novel applications. An adventurous lot, The Craig Torso Show further cushions their material with a wide variety of musical gear, creating a homespun symphony of compelling effects. Aside from the typical guitar, bass, piano and drums played in a rock setting, unusual instruments such as a tanpura, rav vast, shahi baaja and bells are occasionally utilized, resulting in moments of exotic tuneage.
The first two tracks – “Living In Deep Space” and “Ellen Thompson’s Guide To Morality” – move with speed, precision and just the right amount of nerve-jangling tension to an exciting exhibition of jittery guitars, kicking breaks and driving rhythms. Braided with a squealing organ and probing hooks, “Virginia Dare” deftly bridges the gap between sixties styled garage rock and new wave quirkiness, a bare-bones arrangement anchors the raggedy folk fable of “I Gave Away That Kid” and The Go-Betweens are honored on a fine copy of the emotionally-electrifying “The Man Who Died In Rapture.” Another cool reprise included on “Estonian Breakfast Strategies” is Bevis Frond’s “The Wind Blew All Around Me,” which twinkles and twirls with ringing riffs and smiley-face harmonies. Sculpted of riveting chord changes and enterprising orchestration, “Zero-Gravity Sex” and “The Irish Chiropodist” post as additional potent pieces heard on the album.
The Craig Torso Show has gotten off to a great start with “Estonian Breakfast Strategies.” The band’s edgy but appealing perspectives convey a sense of uniqueness and originality in both the songwriting and performances. Hopefully, The Craig Torso Show isn’t a one shot deal, and they will continue to do what they do so well.