Sweet Knievel: Collapsible
The guys in Sweet Knievel are a fun bunch of musicians. Having been to a few of their live shows around Athens, GA and seeing their rotating members, it’s obvious that they share a constantly evolving chemistry. This comes out very well in their first-ever full length record, Collapsible. Primarily a jam-style band, the core of Sweet Knievel’s music is good times and fun melodies. They mix together aptly the genres of funk, soul, jazz, and 60’s psychedelic rock into something you’d largely expect with a few surprises.
The first couple of tracks, “E B” and “Dougy Strut” are obvious choices for extended jamming in a live setting, the latter especially with it’s funky beat and bright harmonies between the keys and organ. The bass does most of the strutting, compelling you to walk around like you know something, bobbing your head to the fat rhythm it creates with the drums. The solos on this track, while a bit excessive, are pretty cool and well mixed within the continued rhythmic melody.
The third track, “The Horror” is one of the sure highlights of the album that creates a chilling, mysterious atmosphere reminiscent of spy themes and sinister ghoul marches. The keys and guitar come together in a writhing climax that knocks you off your seat and is sure to get you dancing like a madman. “Rule of Thumb” calms things down a little bit and presents one of the few songs on the record with vocals. I have very mixed feelings about this, as the vocals don’t really add much and sound a bit distant from the instrument mix.
“Square Bullet” really amps the record back into high gear with a swift rhythm that transforms into a slow jam toward the middle. The rhythm change is masterfully supported by the drum part here as it builds rather smoothly into a full fledged freakout. If you’re a fan of The Doors or Phish, you’ll really dig this song. To see it stretched out live as a jam-session would be extra special. “Wanderful” is another track that contains vocals, and while stronger than “Rule of Thumb” it still feels awkwardly placed in an album of mostly instrumental jams. What these songs lack in contrast to the rest of the album is high energy. It feels like the song is played down to carry the lyrics when perhaps the opposite should occur. I would have been interested to hear what kind of vocals these guys could have come up with for their upbeat songs utilizing a more boisterous, funky singing style.
Collapsible is a fun jaunt for the jam fan, exuding personality with its freewheeling funk and rock qualities. The songs are cool, but in some ways the presentation gets a little stale as the record wears on. Perhaps the record could have been cut down a bit into a tighter EP with an emphasis on the stronger tunes like “Dougy Strut”, “The Horror”, and “Travelers”. Another fun inclusion might have been a couple of live tracks. Sweet Knievel is a great live band for dancing and having a good time, and the constraints of even a well produced record like Collapsible don’t necessarily support this. Still, if you want some music to get you on your feet and brighten your day then give it a listen.
MP3: Sweet Knievel “The Horror”