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July/August 2006

Headless Household
Blur Joan
Household Ink Records

One’s tolerance for carefully crafted eclecticism will probably determine how much interest one might have in Blur Joan, the seventh full-length recording by the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Headless Household. A few longstanding members (keyboardist Dick Dunlap, percussionist Tom Lackner, guitarist and JazzTimes contributor Joe Woodard) make up the core of an outfit that likes to accumulate piles of guest musicians and play games with genre. In fact, on Blur Joan the group flips through genres, moods and styles like a bored 10-year-old with a satellite-radio remote. It’s almost as if they couldn’t bear the thought of two songs resembling one another.

The pretty guitar feature “Ambushed by Serenity” doesn’t try to be showy, clever or poke anyone in the ribs, which makes it something of an exception on a recording where nearly everything else does. A more representative number would be “Then Was the Time,” a piece that begins with passable bop and closes with a hot-cha-cha coda straight from the strip club, or “Plaything” with its handclap-and-squeaky-toy percussion. What the band has going for it is solid musicianship and an admirable willingness to toss in whatever strikes their fancy. But the group’s methods can wear out a listener over the course of an entire recording.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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