Steve Kimock Band, Eudemonic | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Steve Kimock Band, Eudemonic 

(Sci-Fidelity Records, CD)

There's a common term for the milquetoast noodling that California-based guitarist Steve Kimock traffics in, and it's called elevator music. An altogether uninspired outing, Kimock's latest release, Eudemonic, is filled with bland jazz-lite that attempts to pass itself off as respectable fusion.

Kimock, who is something of a god amongst neo-jam and groove fans, is the latest in a long line of six-string blowhards who have little to say on their instruments but take plenty of time to do so. Backed by a jam-by-numbers band, the guitarist substitutes technique for soul on one cut after another for an album's worth of aural Velveeta.

Eudemonic's self-titled opener is so patently sterile that it could set guitar-based music back by at least a decade. Like the soundtrack to a Soloflex commercial or telephone hold music, the tune pounds its faux-funk bass line into your skull with mind-numbing repetition. Nearly as dull, the subsequent track "Ice Cream" is redeemed only by a tight snare shuffle and polyrhythmic cymbal work. "Bouncer" is Kimock's attempt to hitch his wagon to a modern dance groove. Unfortunately, the tune's central motif has less bite than a geriatric without dentures. I'm not sure which is worse: Kimock's meaningless, single-note doodles or his ham-fisted stabs at riffery.

And what cornball instrumental album would be complete without a sappy ballad? Kimock's flaccid centerpiece "In Reply" is his. With its overarching sentimentality and twee melodies, it sounds like Lawrence Welk gone Windham Hill.

"Elmer's Revenge" boasts a shifting time signature that provides the album's most compelling moments. Fleshed out by a minor-key guitar figure, the tune's serpentine groove is fairly engrossing. However, I soon forgot this highlight upon hearing the excruciatingly dull "Moon People." A grievous attempt at progressive rock, the track proves that sound effects and stero panning are a poor substitute for inspiration.

It unsettles me that musicians such as Steve Kimock are receiving so much attention in the jazz-jam sceen. A pinnacle of banality, Eudemonic could be used as weapon in the War on Terror -- play this baby 'round the clock at GitMo and detainees are bound to start talking.

There is a good reason to attend Kimock's show at the Higher Ground Ballroom on Oct. 28, however: A food drive hosted by the philanthropic organization Conscious alliance with benefit Chittenden County emergency food shelves. Now that sounds worthwhile.

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About The Author

Casey Rea

Casey Rea

Casey Rea was the Seven Days music editor from 2004 until 2007. He won the 2005 John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.


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