Listen Up: Wednesday, March 13, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Woodbelly

Captain Coy (Self-released)

By Ken Shimamoto

The cover art for Captain Coy and accompanying promo pics for this Woodbelly disc might lead you to think you’re in line for some “zaniness,” a la Mingofishtrap or the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. But you would be mistaken.

If you’re a local music fan, the immediate sonic association you’ll likely make will be with Pablo and the Hemphill 7 — after all, these Woodbellies are also white guys playing reggae-fied music, plus Cas Haley’s voice bears more than a passing resemblance to Hemphill 7 keyboardist Justin Pate’s. But these are just coincidences.

After Pablo, these three, uh, Parisians (from Paris, Texas), who’ve transplanted to Arlington, remind me of nothing so much as Steely Dan, an outfit I always secretly loathed while my sophisto-muso buddies waxed rhapsodic about the band’s impeccable chopsmanship.

When jazzbos play pop, the tendency is to showboat and shift the focus away from the songs. Like the Detroit studio musicians who were the subject of last year’s underappreciated documentary Standing In the Shadows of Motown, the boys of Woodbelly resist the temptation to show off and distract the listener from the tunesmithery. Instead, they subordinate their hellacious chops to the requirements of the songs.

Like the Dan’s Becker and Fagen, Haley writes intelligent, well-crafted songs with a fluid forward motion that’s missing from most “modern rock.” He and his homeboys play these numbers with aplomb, if not abandon, and the band’s sunny vibe is a welcome shift from the by-the-numbers angst of too many local groups. It’ll be interesting to see how these guys come across live.


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