CD Review of Hot Shoulders by Bald Eagle
Recommended if you like
Fear, Black Flag, Dead Milkmen
Label
Emergency Umbrella
Bald Eagle: Hot Shoulders

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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S
illy without falling into parody, Bald Eagle’s sophomore album Hot Shoulders is a strange journey into a punk rock band’s obsession with deadly animals (fictitious or otherwise), nonsensical non sequiturs about jumping rope, and the occasional hard rocker about boning hot broads (and possibly dudes).

Bald Eagle seem to be equal followers of both metal and punk, with lead singer Danny Matteson’s screaming vocals finding accompaniment along side melodic and repetitive stoner rock riffs. The opening number “Those Are Cobras, Man!” sets the stage for the majority of the album, combining the two previously mentioned styles with hilariously bizarre lyrics about venomous snakes.

This odd band from Missouri seems to have some unhealthy fixation with wildlife dangers, as if they’ve spent way too much time watching Discovery Channel. If that’s the case, then “Sharks Are Fucked Up” had to have been inspired by a marathon viewing session of Shark Week.

But are sharks fucked up? Isn’t it a more accurate description to call them “fucking scary” or “fucking awesome”? The duckbilled platypus is a fucked up animal. It’s a beaver with a duck bill! Did you know it’s poisonous too? Seriously, that’s a fucked up animal. But “Duckbilled Platypuses Are Fucked Up” isn’t as catchy. Actually, it probably is, but “platypus” is a very hard word to rhyme.

Confidently covering both poisonous reptiles and man-eating fish, Bald Eagle move on to fictional beasts with “Rodents of Unusual Size,” a semi-ballad ode to the comedic classic The Princess Bride and the giant rats that attempt to munch on the film’s heroes. Despite its somewhat silly name and surprising source material, the song is surprisingly touching, focusing primarily on the relationship of the film’s grandfather and grandson: “An old one tells a story / Of true love and villains.” It’s definitely better than that god-awful Mark Knopfler song that closes out the movie.

The wackiness continues with “Lemon Lime Be on Time” which appears to be a punk rock jump rope rhyme, and “Trans Dyn-o-Mite” which could possibly be the best song about dancing with a transsexual since the Kinks “Lola.” The singer’s apparent love for his manly woman’s broad frame is the source of the album’s title as well: “Oh, hot shoulders / Oh yeah, I think I love you!”

Taking the silliness down a bit are three instrumental tunes that prove Bald Eagle can bring the headbang-inducing rock even when not waxing poetic about wacky shemales and killer animals. “The Lunch Helicopter” is a mellow jam serves as a nice break between “Rodents of Unusual Size” and “Lemon Lime Be on Time.” It sounds a bit out of place between the two exceptionally unusual songs, but not so much that it’s a distraction. The second instrumental tune, “Shady Creepers,” is much more fast-paced, and may remind some metalheads of the kind of interlude they might find during an exceptionally long track by the Sword, with repetitive driving guitar rhythms pounding into your skull.

The album only really comes apart at the very end with the final instrumental tune, “What’s All This Brew-Ha-Ha?” A better question might be “Where the hell is the brew-ha-ha?” as this numbing, mellowed out, “Sigur Ros goes punk” conclusion to the otherwise great album is like sonic wallpaper. Actually, it kind of sounds like late ‘80s Mark Knopfler. Between this and the ode to “The Princess Bride, maybe they’re trying to take that dude’s job.

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