The Point Label: Magnatude Records
The category of neo-hippie jam band has been a popular one of late. From Dave Matthews Band and the Black Crowes at the head of the class, to lesser known artists like Robert Randolph and Ben Harper, to the up-and-coming My Morning Jacket and North Mississippi All-Stars, this formula is really bubbling over at the moment. For its part, Tishamingo has been touring its home state of Georgia, as well as much of the southeastern U.S., nonstop for the past five years. They’ve mustered two albums of relatively insignificant material up to now, but The Point is rumored to be their breakthrough work.
Producer John Kurzweg, who, depending on your tastes, has to his credit (or discredit) the engineering résumé of Creed, Puddle of Mudd, and Jewel, dragged Tishamingo out to his Santa Fe studio for a couple weeks to solidify 11 new tracks. All their influences are on display here: Gregg Allman’s bluesy keys, Ronnie Van Zant’s bad boy vocals, and Widespread Panic’s cosmic guitar jams. Nothing complicated about the sandpaper grit of “Are We Rollin’” or the busted front porch feel of the slide guitar in “Travel On.” Nope, these guys aren’t blazing any new paths, nor are they doing much in the way of enhancing the one most traveled. “It ain’t the reapin’ it’s the sowin’,” singer Cameron Williams declares. “It ain’t the lines, it’s the song.” Unfortunately, in too many of these southern-fried jammies, it ain’t either! Note: “jammies” is loosely derived from the Jammy Award these guys were nominated for in 2005 in the “New Groove of the Year” category.
Somehow the supposed road-weariness of these poor, oft-traveled upstarts just doesn’t come across as genuine. Even their signature “Freebird”-like anthem, “Tennessee Mountain Angel,” never really takes flight. Most songs clock in at better than five or six minutes, though not because they have to. Leaner, meaner offerings, like “Get on Back” and the sweltering “Bad News,” which owes more to AC/DC than Skynyrd, are both The Point’s highlights and its shortest tracks, proving yet again that less can be more. Actually, the closing track, a scant little Big Head Todd-ish ditty called “Devil’s Love Song,” is the shortest song on the album, and it feels largely out of place.
Originally, I was going to do some paralegal-like research into the peculiar band name Tishamingo. But after investing a couple hours of my life to listening for what few redeeming qualities the music had in store, I couldn’t justify any more time. I’m such a grumpy, old prick.