Royal Fingerbowl's Greyhound Afternoons
Okay, I'm going to write a review of the latest Royal Fingerbowl album without mentioning Tom Waits.
Okay, I can't.
Yes, Royal Fingerbowl sound like Tom Waits. Particularly the Tom Waits of the "Heartattack and Vine" period. The vocals are scratchy, the band is scruffy, the lyrics are triumphantly low-rent. "Happy Birthday, Sabo!!" Royal Fingerbowl's debut of a few years back, was played a lot for guests of Casa de Hoffman, and everyone wanted to know where I scored those unreleased Waits tapes. It was a great album, filled with faux-schmaltzy ballads (like the one that goes "Oh, I wish I was in old Manahawkin', on that train bridge walkin', over to yooooooooooou") and goofy comedy ("A Month of Sundays," dedicated to a youngster's summer break replete with references to "snots.")
Now we've got their follow-up. Does it survive the sophomore jinx? Well, not really. But that may just...
All Music - Greyhound Afternoons ReviewAllmusic.com
All Music - Royal Fingerbowl BioAllmusic.com
With just one inexpensive demo tape, Royal Fingerbowl, a trio from New Orleans, attracted the attention of a New York record company. They've been hailed as one of the best bands to come out of New Orleans since the early-'90s emergence of Better Than Ezra...
All bands like to claim their sound is totally unique, but few actually achieve true originality. The New Orleans-based rock trio Royal Fingerbowl--who warm up for Little Feat Thursday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m., at Le Moyne Manor--comes pretty damn close, however, even while wearing its influences proudly on its collective sleeve. The band's debut CD Happy Birthday, Sabo! (TVT Records) boasts a baker's dozen dark tracks ranging from the straight swing of "A Fistful of Love" to the sad waltz of "Ozona, TX" to the bold blues of "My Money."
Fingerbowl owes its off-kilter artistry to charismatic guitarist and songwriter Alex McMurray, although the Royal rhythm boys--bassist Andrew Wolf and drummer Kevin O'Day--contribute at every turn as well. They embellish McMurray's twisted vision with quirky stop times and unexpected tempos, as in the polka-esque "Munchentown."
Critics across the country...
All Music - Happy Birthday Sabo ReviewAllmusic.com
The graveled voice and equally dirty guitar work of Alex McMurray puts grit into this pawn shop fingerbowl. Several different horns, organ and accordion, mostly...
Royal Fingerbowl - Skippers Smokehouse reviewGroovewell.com
McMurray, a New Jersey native and 13-year resident of the Crescent City, may come off as a boozy, degenerate goofball, the very definition of a class clown gone dissolute, a cut-up given to nonstop drinking and smoking as he crawls his way across the nightscape.
But that might not explain the resonance of the quirky cast of characters he's created, or the musical appeal of the eclectic settings given to his collection of story songs, given life by a singer variously reminiscent of Tom Waits and Louis Armstrong. McMurray wields a mean Gibson ES 335, too.