Turn Up That Noise!
An eclectic survey of recent recordings
By Stephen Grimstead
SEPTEMBER 29, 1997:
Those Darn Accordions!, No Strings Attached (Globe)
Pity the poor accordion, the Rodney Dangerfield of musical instruments. Used mainly as a comic prop or object of derision, its function as an expressive and versatile mode of musical delivery has been obscured over the years. Although several alternative bands have restored some credence to the accordion in recent memory (most notably Brave Combo and They Might Be Giants), the true champions for the cause are the West Coast-based octet Those Darn Accordions!
Establishing their domain as a solid hybrid of traditional pop, polka, and the novelty factor (à la "Weird Al" Yankovic), Those Darn Accordions! show the world just what an accordion can do on their third release, No Strings Attached. Initiating a steady progression with their first recorded effort (a cassette-only release titled Vongole Fisarmonica) to their first full-length CD on Flying Fish (Squeeze This!), a sense of discovery and development continues on No Strings.
Armed with a battalion of six accordions backed by a guitarist and drummer, Those Darn Accordions! wiggle their way through a collection of 12 original and very witty songs, along with two inspired cover tunes. One hasn't really lived until hearing the dynamic accordion-driven version of The Who's "Baba O'Riley" (bonus points for choosing this one over the obvious Who number, that salacious ode to accordion playing, "Squeeze Box") and octogenarian Clyde Forsman's yearning and world-wise take on Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" Highlights from their own repertoire include "Mothra," "Them Hippies Was Right," and "Deathbed Confession."
In addition to their extensive musical chops, Those Darn Accordions! also have a powerful visual impact as well, featuring a trio of slinky sirens among their number (Big Lou, Suzanne, and the airborne Patty).
This is one recording filled with good-natured humor where the novelty doesn't wear off, because there's a wealth of musical integrity behind it. Those Darn Accordions! are blazing a trail down a path that most fear to tread, and they're doing it with panache and aplomb. No Strings Attached is a perfect introduction to this unique band with an even-more unique sound, and you'll never hear an accordion quite the same way again. -- David D. Duncan
Time was when watching Corn Fed grind out generic and
half-competent grunge in the general direction of thin, weeknight
Antenna crowds would have led you to keep track of the band's
lifespan in weeks, if not days. Years later, the local trio
deserves credit for sticking it out through stunt-covering Hole
songs to arrive at a sound that, while not entirely novel, at
least gets its licks in.
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