"Secret Handshakes"

By Dr. Abner Mality

These Chicago rockers are hard to pin down and darn proud of it. In no way can they be considered a metal band, despite bringing a lot of energy to what they do. And what they do is hit the deck with electronic, funky, sarcastic rock. I found some of it just too "ironic" and out of my comfort zone to really enjoy, but when they hit the right groove, they hit it hard.

Album starts with a bang and ends with one, too. Everything in between is kind of variable and depends on your tolerance for poppiness and genre-melting. "Stop This NOW!" is a great kick off, jazzed up with brass, adrenaline and attitude. That level is not really reached again until final cut "The Horrible and The Holy". An album full of dancefloor slammers like these two would have been mind-blowing, but Tub Ring takes the adventurous path instead. I liked the techno-tronic weirdness of "Touched By The Enemy" which sounds like it was made by robots as well as their very odd cover of Queen's "Flash Gordon" theme. Not so hot was the trip hoppy slush of "I Shot Your Faggot Horse", so full of smug hipness and a sound I detest. "Cryonic Love Song" is a synth-drenched chill-out, "Feed The Rapture" and "Chronic Hypersomnia" are just completely WHACKED and "Tip of My Tongue" has sitar and a raga-rock feel. And that only covers some of what's here.

I guess if you like the wild eclecticism of Mike Patton's various projects and stuff like Electric Six and Dog Fashion Disco, Tub Ring will be cuddly listening for you. For me, just a little bit too weird.