Lambchop: Showtunes (Merge) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Somehow you get the sense early on that Showtunes may take us where Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner has not gone before—and that is not many places, by the way. Whether it is the more classically inclined instrumentation that appears early on the album or something buried deep in the mix that gives the hint, Lambchop goes operatic on the closing track, “The Last Benedict.” A very Wagnerian move, regardless of how you want to take that.

In spite of the album’s title, it is not a continuation of last year’s TRIP covers album, but even if it is not a Lambchop hallmark, the title is far from nonsensical. With none of the other “regular” band members on board, Wagner is remotely joined by Yo La Tengo’s James McNew on double bass (a McNew song was included on TRIP), Fog’s Andrew Broder on grand piano, French DJ Twit One, Bon Iver touring member C.J. Camerieri on horns, with Wagner and Poliça’s Ryan Olson providing the tweaks. What ensues are certainly songs you could envision gracing a soundtrack, played to an auditorium of philharmonic stalwarts, or in support of an aria just before curtain call.

The opening “A Chef’s Kiss” starts in soundtrack mode, with the song’s melody not so far removed from Pocahontas’ “Color of the Wind.” Insert “Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon” for Wagner’s “A Civil War veteran picks a lily and listens to Pablo Casals” and you will get the drift. The brief instrumental “Papa Was a Rolling Stone Journalist” points to a classical shift, which is brought to full fruit on centerpiece “Fuku.” Piano, horns, bass, and Twit One’s beats seamlessly integrate to find a spaced out peace. And of course all is not over until the lady of unknown girth sings on “The Last Benedict.” Wagner continues to mine a vein of mournful gentleness but can’t help but continue to chop and quarter as he goes, which only ups the interest in revisiting the album. Because it is always best when you paint with all the colors. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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