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Snuttock - Straight Jacket Life [return to reviews]
Review by Christopher Roddy
 

Take one endlessly creative individual and send him into a Guitar Center searching for equipment. Have him meet up with a tenacious and experienced sales associate who not only points him in the proper direction but helps him realize his vision. The right ingredients in the right place at the right time brought Snuttock to fruition. In retrospect I suppose it seems like destiny had a hand in it all. The warped mind and sick instinct for melody bottled up within Bryan Lee needed a platform and Christopher Lee Simmonds (thOught industry, Filter, Bullhead, etc.) provided everything necessary to make Snuttock's debut, Straight Jacket Life, a reality contributing production, engineering assistance and even guitar on a couple songs.

What Lee has crafted with these eleven tracks is an intriguing mix of sounds that call to mind a dizzying variety of acts from years gone by. Think Ministry's Twitch mixed with the strange personality of 90's flashpan act Prick channeled through Depeche Mode's Black Celebration and peppered liberally with Oingo Boingo's Dead Man's Party and Duran Duran's Seven And The Ragged Tiger. Seem unlikely? Welcome to the world of Snuttock. This is a do-it-yourself project that will throw you back over a decade, at times even further and endear itself to you with stand-alone personality and a serious amount of panache.

The first track, "Like You," serves as your period of adjustment. The production is spare and the sound of Snuttock is, as I mentioned, something out of time. The adhesive that bonds you to this particular spider's web is the deranged vocal melody Lee delivers along with the hauntingly simplistic musical accompaniment. This is the introduction to a maniacal trip through a twisted funhouse where the mirror of truth stares deep into you. As the quirky personality of Lee takes shape you become enamored by his style and compelled to delve further into the murky recesses of his slightly off-kilter thought process.

You'll start to think you're getting to understand the direction in which the album is heading and then Lee throws something like "Why" at you, a short detour into light Synth Pop that typifies why Straight Jacket Life is an entertaining listen from start to finish. The dark edge to the music returns with "Spiders," a moody and atmospheric piece that could have sprung from Danny Elfman's mind almost three decades ago. Beyond that, bombastic, clanging percussion and eerie synth dominate "I," one of the album's highlights.

The vocal melodies and understated harmonies Lee constructs are what ultimately give many of the tracks on this CD the haunting weight that will bring people back for repeated listens. They're infectious in their own bizarre way and wholly original in the method by which they're delivered. Lee is no great singer but his quivering baritone is distinctive and alluring. His approach isn't always a success however. "Everybody" is all over the place and doesn't maintain the focus or power that many of the other tracks have. The singing jumps octaves and doesn't nail the notes right away which weakens the overall effect. It's an ambitious track that doesn't totally fall flat but is probably the weakest song in this collection.

This release is already three years old but it takes a while for word to travel about truly independent treasures like this one. You probably won't be able to find it in your local record store but it is stocked at Isotank along with the Carved & Sutured remix album. If what I've described to you sounds appealing then Snuttock is definitely worth checking out. It will be interesting to see how this artist grows and evolves in the future considering the promise shown by this debut.

 
Tracklist
1. Like You
2. Life
3. Wander
4. Why
5. Spiders
6. I
7. Empty
8. Lifeless
9. Everybody
10. What
11. Daydream