CD Review: "Redeeming Metal/Union"

CD: Redeeming Metal/Union
Artist: The Scrap Iron Pickers

By the time we catch onto anything cool here it's been out for a while, and such is the case for Charleston's own Scrap Iron Pickers.

Comprised of a veritable star-studded lineup of John Sizemore, Roadblock and Matt Wolfe, these guys are joined on this genre skipping debut split effort by a half dozen or so notable guest musicians (the band's "Union" members) and from our perspective, having had the CD drop into our figurative lap all of a sudden, it's better late than never hearing it, becuase it's got to be one of the coolest CDs we've heard all year, period.

It shouldn't surprise anyone who's already heard this relatively recently formed trio, though.

First off, there's no vocals or singing on the 13-song release, so there's no lyrical or narrative structure to tyrannize the Pickers version of "angry Jazz." Sure, there's the (by this point fair use?) old Camel cigarette and DuPont commercials sampled in with William S. Burroughs among others, but really, not having vocals seems to make the stretched-out jams cooler.

Opening with "Coal Bucket" and "Too Pissed Off To Sleep," by the time you get a feel of what's going on with what they're going for, the Pickers have already begun their impressive journey on whatever musical direction they're wanting to go on, and that's the cool thing with their music: it's seemingly ambitious without being contrived or forced -- they're just jamming and it seems to come natural to them. The journey is the destination.

Most of the music -- a directionless hard-prog rock/punk/dub-reggae hybrid -- on Redeeming Metal seems to remind us of music we've always seemed to like, which makes us even lamer for not "getting" what the Pickers are going for sooner. Possibly the coolest track on the CD is the acoustic-based, harmonica soaked "Swamp Thing," which before you know it has evolved into explosive hard rock, and features "Union" members Jeff Ellis and Bud Carroll, who engineered and co-produced the CD along with the Pickers.

"Kids Raising Kids/Kids Killing Kids" evokes Hum for us, they're that band from that Cadillac commercial. "The Stench of Poverty" is a pretty cool prog rock-sounding jam. "Spy Vs. Spy" is the dub reggae-meets hard rock flavor of the Pickers. The garage techno of "Strange Bytes" on the Union EP only cements the idea that the Pickers aren't leery of embracing a wide spectrum of genres and styles, and just excites us all the more.

But two of the coolest tracks are saved for last -- "Junkyard Jesus" and "The Mourning After" -- and taking up approximately 40 minutes worth of time, you'll have to check out the CD, which is shaping up to be the surprise hit of the year here at the site.

Like it says on their MySpace profile, if you come expecting nothing out of the Scrap Iron Pickers, you'll not only be surprised, but duly impressed. We look forward to hearing more from these dudes.

mp3: "Swamp Thing" by Scrap Iron Pickers

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