Oddfellows – Tomahawk (2013)

Oddfellows - Tomahawk

Oddfellows – Tomahawk

Oddfellows is Tomahawk’s fourth album and was released on January 29, 2013.  It was released on Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings and returns to the Tomahawk rock style after their previous, Native American music inspired album, Anonymous was inspired.

The album is the first with frequent Mike Patton collaborator, Trevor Dunn being employed for bass guitar duties. Duane Dennison and John Stanier return on guitar and drums respectively.

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Tracklisting

  1. Oddfellows

    This chugging, off-kilter rock song opens the record with Patton at full dramatic force, drawing the individualism out of the lyrics. It’s a heavy slow burner of a track, huge-sounding and unsettling.

    Duration: 3:29

  2. Stone Letter

    This is an up-tempo rock track with big choruses and dynamic verses. This is the classic Tomahawk sound: heavy and raging but gets weird in the middle. The chorus recalls the best rock of the 1990s.

    Duration: 2:52

  3. I.O.U.

    Dramatic and downtempo, this one features a long, slow buildup to the chorus/dynamic high point, stays there briefly, then ends. One of a number of sub-three-minute songs on this set. Mostly atmosphere, this.

    Duration: 2:38

  4. White Hats/ Black Hats

    Pretty much regular rock and roll here, at least as regular as this bunch ever gets. The trio drives hard and Patton does his thing on top. The entire album is the most accessible record in the Tomahawk catalog and songs like this are the reasons why. Patton’s verse vocals almost feel like a phonetic instrument more than lines of lyrics.

    Duration: 3:22

  5. A Thousand Eyes

    This is another short song that is dark, brooding, and textural. Patton inhabits something like this differently than any other singer would, keeping it mostly quiet and fading to nothingness at the end. So short you could blink and miss it but worth paying attention to catch.

    Duration: 2:41

  6. Rise Up Dirty Waters

    Dirty punk/jazz number that’s easily the most interesting track on the album up to this point. It changes feels and genres instantly and represents the more experimental side of these Patton/Dennison collaborations. Rock music as an art project.

    Duration: 3:07

  7. The Quiet Few

    Guttural vocals, dissonant guitars, and an ever-increasing intensity are what this rock song is all about. It’s a bit more of Tomahawk’s avant-garde side buried in the middle of the album. Deep Patton fans will appreciate this.

    Duration: 3:48

  8. I Can Almost See Them

    This track is slow, simmering, and theatrical with the low-pitched bits of Patton’s voice seeing a lot of use. The bigger parts give a glimpse of what he would sound like as The Wizard of Oz. This one lives in a cool world and it ends sooner than you’d like it to.

    Duration: 2:37

  9. South Paw

    Fist-pumping, exciting rock and roll that does the heavy/light/heavy thing very well. This is another accessible track fans of less-than-experimental music will dig. Great noise guitar crescendo towards the end.

    Duration: 4:01

  10. Choke Neck

    Creepy and weird stroll feel piled high with dissonant guitars and Pattonisms. It’s a sinister-sounding track with lots of space for Patton to grab listener’s attention and keep it.

    Duration: 3:51

  11. Waratorium

    This track is crunchy and satisfying in an odd-meter kind of way. It’s a full-on beer-soaked concert blaster, made for a big stage. The groove is heavy and shifting and shows the power of the band very well. Then, it just ends.

    Duration: 3:28

  12. Baby Let’s Play ___

    This feels like an art-rock funeral dirge and has a fatalism to it that’s hard to escape. It seems that’s the entire point. Dennison’s guitar textures on fully on-point here and he uses his space very well.

    Duration 2:43

  13. Typhoon

    The final track jumps back onto the gas pedal with a punchy punk groove that gives way to expansive rock sections that come and go quickly. This is more fodder for big shows and takes the album out in a rage.

    Duration: 2:12

Album Artwork

The design of the artwork is by Ivan Brunetti, featuring a bright yellow background and cartoon animals.

Reviews

Oddfellows was mostly well-received and scores a solid 7 or 8 out of 10 to a lot of reviewers. Spin Magazine’s Grayson Currin rated Oddfellows a seven, reporting that the record  “presents a tide of ideas, information, and intrigue.” Like many, he felt the effort sought to blend art and mainstream rock styles but was at its best when going fully experimental.

Cole Waterman of PopMatters gave Oddfellows an eight out of ten, finding the record to be the group’s “most accessible by far”. He also liked the “absurdist” tone of the record’s lyrics.

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