Music note: Pachyderm’s “So Large We Ran Out of Room”

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Compilation discs are a crapshoot. Most times, you’re lucky if there’s more than a few good cuts. With Pachyderm Studio’s So Large We Ran Out of Room, however, your luck runs pretty good.

Ringers, for instance, include heavyweights like Alicia Wiley, The New Congress, Down Lo, White Light Riot…you get the idea. Among the less known names getting welcome—and well-deserved—exposure are folk chanteuse Meredith Fiercke with her haunting “Train Song” and hellified bluegrass blues band Snake Beard Jackson doing “Buzzin.’”

Alicia Wiley and The New Congress are two of the freshest breaths of air on the Twin Cities nightclub scene; have been for quite some time. Wiley’s newest is a live outing, Changes, that shows her evocative songwriting and alluring vocal style to fine effect. Here she introduces one of her strongest efforts to date, an hypnotic gem called “Half Way Home.” Sultry, poetic, and rolling with a sexy rhythm, the cut is worth getting So Large We Ran Out Of Room in and of itself. So is The New Congress’s cold-blooded contribution “1000 Degrees.” Anyone who’s heard TNC in the recent past can tell you: main songwriter Orange AC’s creative well is nowhere near drying up. The new material is all fresh, some it even better than what’s on their killer album Everybody Gets Up!. “1000 Degrees” steps the bar up a serious notch from even the exquisite power of crowd-rousers like “Sex in the Light Years” and “What a Life.” A funked-up, rock-R&B anthem of the first order, “1000 Degrees” unleashes the band in a scalding storm. Orange is tighter than ever on guitar, with vocals powered by even stronger passion.

Jam-band juggernaut Down Lo generate so much power they could fire up Hoover Dam. Their newest is In Our World, recorded with L.A. hip-hopper Deploi and following their house-burning debut, Lead My Way. Here, they’re doing a cut called “Work {Remix},” which indeed mixes hip-hop with a jug band, sweetened by strains of R&B. Rock band White Light Riot, well-represented by their album Atomism, give the Doobie Brothers’ old hit “What a Fool Believes” a Todd-Rundgren-ish going-over with fascinating results. Michael McDonald purists: get over it. This airtight cover kicks ass and takes names.

So as compilations stand, you could go a lot wronger than So Large We Ran Out Of Room. Especially if you like good music.

Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the TC Daily Planet.

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