The inside jokes surely abound on Cynical Rat Bastard, a quirky recording from tenorist David Aaron's Short Memory band. With a feel that touches on the '70s rhythm sections of Ian Dury's Blockheads, Bastard is just that, a somewhat unholy combination of melodic and free that screams to be heard as well as whimpers in self deprecation. Aaron, a Canadian who has struck a home in NYC, both physically and philosophically, enlists two fellow transplants, the Ritchies: drummer Greg and guitarist Rob, along with bassist Matt Wigton, for this wry, somewhat roguish romp.
Combining his up-front tone with Rob Ritchie's guitar augmentations, Aaron uses his compositional skill and overall leadership to work across cleverly changing rhythms to build a stylistic whole. After a brief up-tempo intro to the "Landshark, the ecologically friendly "For Ever Green grabs you with the set's catchiest melody before the band opens it up for an improvisatory bass, guitar and tenor ride. The title cut is full of mysterious swagger that veers close to camp, while guitar and tenor make "Schneirdle an intriguing meeting between Eastern and Western modes.
The program becomes seemingly autobiographical at points: "Nobbylocks, based on Aaron's poem about an eleven-year-old's despair, and the highly personal "Sophia's Diary are touchingly delivered. Brief vignettes like the quick, intoxicating shot of "Dutch Courage serve to tie things together. These allow Aaron to segue easily from the giddy blues of "Soy Sauce Chicken on Rice through the manifest sarcasm of "When I'm Alone, Chicks Go Wild!! to the beautifully presented portrait of "Sydney. A hidden final cut lazily shows that time is irrelevant as things draw to an end. If Dury was alive and living in NYC, he would find his kindred spirits here.
Track Listing: Landshark; For Ever Green; Cynical Rat Bastard; Schnerdle; Nobbylocks; Ila's Furnace; Sophia's Diary; City Eyes; Soy Sauce Chicken on Rice; When I'm Alone, Chicks Go Wild!; Dutch Courage; Corn Dog Hamper; Sydney.
Personnel: David Aaron: tenor saxophone; Rob Ritchie: guitar, vocals; Greg Ritchie: drums, vocals; Matt Wigton: bass, vocals.