singer-songwriter Todd Tate makes his album debut with this ambitious
CD featuring his snarling Bowie-as-baritone vocals, a hard rock
bass-drums-guitar trio and a wildly incongruous string section.
This is the strangest heavy-metal-meets-classical experiment since
Metallica joined the San Francisco Symphony in a collaboration that
sometimes sounded like a Stradivarius played with a chain saw.
Life Love Misery's clash of sound and style doesn't end with the
instrumentation. Tate writes songs with Elysian titles like “Deer in
the Morning,” “Delightful,” “April” and “Beautiful One,” but sings them
like in a vocal style that is more misery than life and love.
His rough vocal and his band's dirty fuzz guitars work much better on hard
rockers like “Takes the Edge Off,” which argues that pulling a certain
woman to your hips is better than cigarettes, beer and cocaine. What's
her phone number?
And the opening track, “Sleeping Dogs,” is nice and nasty with its
suggestive lyrics about giving the dog a good kick to the curb before
throwing it a bone.
Life Love Misery features Tate on guitars and keyboards, drummer
Kenny Stravopoulos and bassist Mario Previti of Renegade Studios.
Cellist Heather Houseman and violinists Graham Pellettieri and
Vanessa Montgomery, who doubles on viola, make up the ill-advised
string section. Montgomery adds a discordant, minor key violin solo
on “Sleeping Dogs,” and the video for the song on the band's Web site
is an entertaining bit of rock psychedelia in the spirit of Major
Lazer's “Pon de Floor” without the dry humping.