Before the electric guitar ruined rock and roll….

Album Review: Squeeze-bot

CD: “Squeeze-bot”
Label: Self Released

A quick review of this CD’s instrumentation (accordion, banjo, tuba, drums) should cue you in pretty fast that Louisville KY’s Squeeze-bot are not your average “pop” combo.

As their name implies the accordion is the featured instrument for the group, which I’m all for. But there is a certain perkiness that comes with this bellowed contraption, an upbeat feel that few players are able to successfully side step. Thankfully key(s) operator Todd Hildreth is adept at finding different grooves for the band and his instrument.

Take the melancholic “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (yes, the Crowded House song), it’s sweet, sad and wonderful. Their version of “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” (that’s right, Culture Club) covers similar territory but doesn’t quite have the depth of emotion Squeeze-bot evokes on “Don’t Dream”. If you prefer the spritely sound most folks associate with accordion focused groups check out “Walk this Way” (Aerosmith), it should fit like a glove.

Nice composition and skillfully playing aside what makes this collection work is not the choice of pop and/or rock covers. Once you strap on a banjo and accordion the typical listener is never going to get beyond the Lawrence Welk/cornpone stereotypes mainstream media has indoctrinated *UNLESS* the musicians have an ace up their sleeves…

Squeeze-bot’s ace is jazz. Most of the compositions on this disc are by jazz performers (Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, the mighty Thelonius Monk…). This is the key ingredient that makes this album a recording with snap and spark. By mixing in jazz the group have lifted the instruments from the hicksville of our imagination and placed them squarely back where the belong: on an intimate stage in smokey club. For this they get a tip of my hat. Well done.