Tricky Woo

Canadians with a badass rep for onstage professional and personal pyrotechnics, Tricky Woo recently slimmed down from a quartet to a trio. But don't let that lull you into thinking they've simmered down; TW still plows forth as manfully as any big-name stoner-rock outfit. It's just that on their fourth full-length, they've decided to stretch out, artistically speaking.

What that means for you, the home consumerist, is that raw, acid-drenched soul-blooze (the Stooges' "Dirt" meets Free down at Junior Kimbrough's juke joint for "Lil-lay Bank Blues") rests next to some rather serene instrumental noodling (the Phishy "Beau Soleil"; the Floydian title cut) which in turn nestles lovingly alongside classic riff anthems cut from Stones fabric ("Don't Get the Music Worried"), only to collapse in a smoking, twisted heap of car-crash MC5/Ted Nugent metal ("Liberty Drawl," which not so coincidentally has some terrific cat-scratch-fever leads).

In a sense, this is art-rock with a capital "R"; much as Jon Spencer or Cobra Verde's John Petkovic excel in collapsing multiple genres, sometimes within individual songs, to suit their agitated needs, Tricky Woo enjoys mixing things up and keeping the listener off balance while maintaining a solid, no-bullshit groove. Overall, the latter element is the most important one in the Woo world. Unlike, say, Beck, who can dazzle you but wear you out with his chameleonic, stop-on-a-dime shifts, within the collective chest of Tricky Woo beats the heart of a seasoned jam-band: witness the cheekily-titled "Szabo Gabo" which, in the space of four minutes, traverses everything from Kyuss to the Allman Brothers to Funkadelic to Dave Brubeck. For that matter, the extended outro of "Strange Meat" turns into a kind of Santana/Hendrix-at-Woodstock percussion/bass/wah-wah guitar boogie orgy. You can practically see the Frisbees and Hacky Sacks being launched from the knoll over behind the stage.


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