After his exploits in the Faith No More reunion and his increasing forays into left-field genres such as Italian big band, movie soundtracks and the like, it’s refreshing to see Mike Patton return to the relatively saner Tomahawk, which was his first post-FNM project following his most famous band’s initial demise. Following the heavily Native American-inspired ‘Anonymous’, he and his co-conspirators Duane Denison (Jesus Lizard), John Stanier (Helmet), and now regular Patton collaborator Trevor Dunn, moving in on bass in place of original member Kevin Rutmanis, have returned with a new album much more reminiscent of Tomahawk’s original style and with arguably Patton’s most straight ahead project for years.
Still, though its more restrained than the aforementioned ‘Anonymous’ for experimentation, ‘Oddfellows’ still sees a band willing to push the boat out despite being much more accessible this time around. The mesmerising title-track leads off with a sludgy stomp building to a classic Patton refrain, and the lead single ‘Stone Letter’, which wouldn’t sound amiss from the latter FNM-era. The album continues along a path of quiet-loud aesthetics (‘The Quiet Few’, ‘Choke Neck’ to name a couple), forays into jazz rock (‘Rise Up Muddy Waters’), back alley blues (‘Baby Let’s Play), sinister pop (the fantastic ‘I.O.U’.), and for the most part excels, though it sometimes sells the listener short, as on ‘I Can Almost See Them’, when the build-up leads to pretty much nothing but the next song.
In any event, anyone who was disappointed five years ago will generally be pleased to see Tomahawk return to the modus operandi established on their first two albums, and that they’re largely in good shape. ‘Oddfellows’ is certainly one of the more intriguing rock albums I’ve heard of late – despite its apparent restraint, it still draws from the best bits of Mr. Bungle, Fantomas and indeed Tomahawk’s back catalogue and turns them into something standout within the rock universe in 2013.
Tomahawk – Stone Letter
Buy ‘Oddfellows’ here