Gory Bateson - Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?
2011, Ethnog Records
Gory Bateson has lived a charmed life. As primary songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist for 1960's rockers The Ethnogs; Bateson has a handful of top-ten singles to his name. In spite of a host of well-documented personal struggles, Bateson's popularity has remained relatively unscathed over the years. While legal troubles are rumored to have curtailed touring plans of The Ethnogs during the 1970's and 1980's, the band did manage to put on a handful of "hit and run" shows stateside, while maintaining their reputation as a world class touring act. Bateson dropped out of sight for most of two decades, playing in Ethnog cover bands and even doing a brief stint a spokesman for Viagra. But music never stopped calling, and Bateson needed the money. The upshot of this mutual need is Bateson's first solo album in almost a decade, Is That Viral Enuf 4 U? Bateson embraces technology this time around, using modern recording techniques and computer effects to complete his most compelling work since his 1960's heyday.
Bateson kicks things off with "She's Got The Booty For It", a hippy-hop/pop blend that marches up the borders of family propriety and sticks around for a good, long, uncomfortable look. It's a well-written tune with a chorus that will stick in your head; you'll be cursing Bateson for days. "Don't Be A Drag, Man" could be called a treatise in blues, and probably explains the outlook that has allowed Bateson to escape the ups and downs of his life without getting roughed up in the process. "Delta Breezes" is a mellow-yet-catchy classic rock number with hints of Jimmy Buffet in its lineage. The choice of clarinet for the big instrumental solo is a bit unusual, but works out particularly well. The song definitely sounds like something you could dance to on a Saturday night.
"My Baby's Thong" will leave listeners scratching their heads. You'll find yourself hoping this one is a joke, but given Bateson's reputation you can never be sure. Nevertheless, it's a disturbing song full of imagery those weak of constitution might want to avoid. Bateson pulls himself into the 21st century with "Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?” a semi-comic response to a new dating pitfall for the digital age. Bateson even uses a Vocoder to make the point; an artful touch to top off a catchy arrangement. Bateson's stab at 1960's-style Latin pop, "Guanajuato", doesn't quite mesh with the rest of the album, but it is a pleasant little diversion along the way.
Bateson daydreams about driving fancy cars in "Valet In L.A.", a cute and catchy bit of fluff that leads into the low-brau rocker "Road Rage". Bateson's chorus is catchy enough you'll carry it with you, and will recur the next time you're cut off in traffic or have to wait for the person in front of you at the stop light to finish their call before they realize it's turned green. "West Hollywood Blues" finds Bateson crossing economic, social and sexual tracks in a well-intended but ham-handed attempt at humor (we think). Once again, it's hard to know for sure, as Bateson tends to have no filters, and no apparent understanding of one might look like in the first place. Bateson offers a quick goodbye in the form of "Happy Birthday Buddy", an abrupt birthday greeting for a friend whose demise has been greatly exaggerated.
Gory Bateson isn't impossible, but he's highly improbable. With a schizophonic sound that shifts as quickly as his moods, Bateson is literally all over the map on Is That Viral Enuf 4 U? Gory Bateson is an artist with a good heart and a skewed perspective on life. He's also quite generous; his constant emails, impromptu songs left on our answering machine, digital pictures of his belly button lint collection and bundles of homegrown oregano (we think) have certainly brightened the office here at Wildy's World. The music will brighten your day as well. Grant, some of the lyrics are downright disturbing or funny, depending upon your proclivities, but Gory is always entertaining. The answer is Yes, Gory, I believe it is.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
You can learn more about Gory Bateson on Facebook or on Twitter. Is Tha Viral Enuf 4 U? is available from Amazon.com as a CD or Download. The album is also available via CDBaby.com and iTunes.