All Bluegrass, All Metal, All Weird
Primus’ Les Claypool recently turned off his electric bass and picked up an acoustic Dobro to craft the sound of the alternative-bluegrass-country project Duo de Twang. While the music of Primus itself hasn’t necessarily fallen within specific genre lines over the band’s twenty five-year tenure, the sound of Duo de Twang definitely represents a departure from the music typically associated with Claypool and the group.
On the band’s debut, Four Foot Shack, Claypool, along with guitarist Bryan Kehoe of M.I.R.V./Kehoe Nation, simultaneously let through all of the folk, all of the bluegrass, all of the metal, and all of the weird, in a way that only they could. The product of their labor is a grungy, dark, folk ruckus reminiscent of what Mellow Gold-era Beck would sound like if it had a child with System of a Down. However, the duo’s songwriting remains distinctly folk-ish, telling stories from the Bible Belt about religion, tragedy, and absurdity. Tracks like “Amos Moses” and “Red State Girl” include these themes between driving acoustic bass lines and decidedly dark lyrics dealing more or less with contemporary American folk culture, but the group also opts for lighter tunes, such as “The Bridge Came Tumblin’ Down,” and, ingeniously, a cover of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” While it sounds ridiculous in writing, it’s just as absurdly awesome to listen to.
Overall, while the genre-bending and metal-folk fusion might seem abrasive and too weird to work at first, Duo de Twang pull the whole thing off with a cavalier air of individuality that few groups could genuinely maintain. The sheer ingenuity of the album’s concept, coupled with interesting songwriting and excellent musicianship, makes Four Foot Shack more than just a novelty album: it’s a well-crafted experiment in fusion music that transcends genre lines. It’s in the creation of a super-niche sound that Duo de Twang create something inherently accessible to many: well-executed, exciting and worthy of praise.
And while the band is currently on a short tour until June– and Claypool certainly has his hands full with Primus– one can only hope that he and Kehoe get back to the studio as soon as possible.