Odd Fellows Rest

The Last Hombres

A mix of horns, jangly guitars, deceptively complicated backbeats and a fair amount of solid vocal harmonies are at the root of the new The Last Hombres' Odd Fellows Rest CD. The five-piece (with the three original members and principal songwriters - guitarist and vocalist Paul Schmitz, bassist and vocalist Michael Meehan and guitarist and vocalist Russ Seeger) offer up a collection of 12 strong tunes after 10 years of being out of spotlight. Meandering between country, rockabilly, straight-ahead rock, funk and Latin all mixed with high and rich production value to create The Last Hombres' own specific mélange of sound.

"The Wreckage" starts with a great orchestrated horn opening (the Hot 8 Brass Band perform the horn duties here and throughout the record) and then we are into a slanky beat from drummer Tom Ryan, who is pretty much spectacular throughout. Chris James' organ is on full frontal display here as well. "Whisper" is next with a funky beat and an actual bugle lead in its middle. "Dreams" feels like we are settling down in Tom Waits' territory, the horns swirl in a slightly discordant soup and there is a low Leslie-swirling organ. But then the tune's sing-able chorus sets upon you, way too infectious to ignore, and once again the strong and distinctive vocals of four out of the five Hombres makes for one of my most favorite songs on this CD.

I adore the lyric of "Doll's Head." It is far and away a step up from any that preced it - wry, telling, simply effective. This is another of my more favorite tunes. The lead guitar playing here shines as well-probably the first real taste of a distinctive lead-with its simplicity and organist Chris James even manages to get in a siren whistle into the verses. "Jenny Jones" plucks up that mid-tempo country vibe. We hear the first use of Russ Seeger's violin on "Save The Farm." There's a snake-like swagger to "Cardinal" as bassist, vocalist and one of the main songwriters, Michael Meehan sets up a good groove for the muted guitars of Seeger and Paul Schmitz. Odd Fellows Rest is stamped with a specific sound that immediately reminds the listener that they are in The Last Hombres' world, once again, after a good 10 years away.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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